Heard of BFI Player? Well, there’s also BFI Player+, a subscription service that offers an all-you-can-eat selection of hand-picked classics.
Every Friday, Mark Kermode highlights one of the collection’s titles with a video introduction. This week, it’s Brief Encounter, David Lean’s romantic masterpiece, which chronicles an almost-affair between a wife (Celia Johnson) and a married man (Trevor Howard) after their paths cross at a station. Throbbing with passion, pain and pathos, it’s a beautiful, timeless tribute to unrequited love, captured with monochrome precision and swooningly accompanied by Rachmaninov. Even today, people still flock to Carnforth railway station in Lancashire to relive their memories of the film – and filmmakers such as Todd Haynes still echo Lean’s classic in their own work.
What else is available to stream? Every week, we bring you a round-up of the latest titles on BFI Player+:
After Ordet’s addition last week, BFI Player+ continues to build its Carl Theodor Dreyer collection with his final film, which follows a female singer who decides to leave her husband for a young composer – only to be betrayed by him and reject both for a life of solitude.
Flames of Passion
Brief Encounter’s echoes continue in this 1989 short, which reinterprets David Lean’s classic with this gay romance set at a steam-shrouded train station.
The Village Church
Dreyer’s 14-minute short, also from 1947, chronicles the history of Danish churches, a documentary that, notes the BFI, is given added realism by the removal of artificial light and the use of period costumes from Day of Wrath (see below).
The Fight Against Cancer
Another Dreyer creation, this 11-minute short from 1947 – produced for the Cancer Society – calls for Danish citizens to have regular examinations. It was only over 20 years later that his involvement with the film would be discovered.
This 1975 movie captures the identity struggle of British-born black youths in 1970s London, as Tony, an intelligent pupil, finds himself unable to get work due to social prejudices. Should he confirm with his family’s church-going behaviour or join his friends and brother in a fight for purpose in the streets?
Another portrait of the 1970s, Permissive follows a young woman who finds herself plunged into the grim world of the groupie in London.
Day of Wrath
Dreyer’s 1943 classic sees a 17th century Danish community gripped by a fear of witchcraft, prompting the village to kill one old woman and accuse another, after her husband dies. Powerful and intense, it shares similar ground with Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, both of which can be interpreted in myriad ways.
A BFI Player+ subscription costs £4.99 a month, with a 30-day free trial. For more information, visit http://player.bfi.org.uk