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Sunrise (1927)


Sunrise

In this melodrama a farmer is forced to choose between a seductive it girl from the big city and his simple and innocent country wife.

Sunrise was German filmmaker F.W. Murnau’s (“Nosferatu”; “The Last Laugh”) first of four American films before his tragic death in a car accident in 1931.

Producer William Fox (founder of Fox Film that became a part of nowadays 20th Century Fox which is owned by Rupert Murdoch) granted Murnau maximum artistic freedom for this film that brought his studio a lot of prestige, but poor revenues.

The film received three Oscars at the first ceremony of the Academy Awards in 1929. The categories at that time were a bit different, but would nowadays approximately equal for Best Picture, Best Actress in a Leading Role (Janet Gaynor as the farmer’s wife), Best Cinematography (Charles Rosher and Karl Struss). The film furthermore received one Oscar nomination for Best Art Direction (Rochus Gliese).

Murnau: “I think films of the future will use more and more of these ‘camera angles’, or, as I prefer to call them, these ‘dramatic angles’. They help photograph thought.”

IMDb link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0018455/

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28 responses to “Sunrise (1927)

  1. Kris

    Ah, the good ol’ classics. The 1920’s were a good decade for films for that was the era of the roarin’ 20’s, so the money was available to really bring production value up. And along with that, Black and White films were no joke to pull off, you need a lot of light and a very efficient crew. It is easy to to conclude that the film Sunrise sits at the pinnacle of production value in the silent film era before the “Talkies” took over. The first major point to be had about the high production value is the setting, which almost completely manufactured for the film. According to IMDB, “The scenes in the city were not filmed on location. They were filmed on a vast and expensive set, built especially for the movie.” I personally doubt that this was technically difficult to do for the craftsman of the time were very capable people however I do agree with expensive part. The forced perspective scenes which really start to shine at 1:00:14 require am amazing amount of talented artists to create correctly. Especially on that scale. So whether the scenes were required a lot of money or the scenes required a lot of talent, they were expensive either way. Another expensive technique at the time was the matte technique. Basically “pulling a matte” is the equivalent of the “green screen” of todays blockbusters. A very impressive matte pull was the scene at 00:44:56, where the two main characters carelessly walk into oncoming traffic. Though we’ve scene matte pulls as early as 1903 (The Great Train Robbery), the matte pull in Sunrise is of a significance technical variety. The scene is divided into three layers: the foreground, mid-ground and the background. In the foreground we see the cars, these are the cars that are moving in front of the two lovers. These cars had to be separated from their own plate shot to just get the car as a matte. Then the lovers were separated from their own plate and a matte was pulled. This shot was interesting because the camera is moving with the characters. Pulling a matte with a moving camera is non-quzzical with today’s equipment, but back in the late 20’s, it must have been a real technical issue. Then there is the background which is basically just a plate shot with no matte pulled. All of the elements, three different shots, three different strips of film all had to be composited together into one seamless shot. Even today, though easier than in the 1920’s, a shot like this would be fully planned and storyboarded to get it right. Finally the actors in the film were not “no-names”. George O’Brien was a known Hollywood star at the time and acted in no less than 24 films before Sunrise(IMDB). He want on with his film career well into the the 1960’s (IMDB). Janet Gaynor also was a renowned Hollywood star with 31 films to her credit before Sunrise and her career actually lasted into the 1980’s (IMDB). Being a silent film star requires an enormous amount of charisma and body acting because you can’t describe what is going on through dialogue. Everything has to acted out and over emphasized so the audience gets what is going on. The fact that these two actors survived the transition into the modern era of film and movies speaks onto itself about how talented (and expensive) they were. The actors themselves exhibit much of the production value of the film. I like films with production value and this value isn’t always rated with money. Anyone can throw money at something but it takes very talented and smart people to be constructive with the money and put together a great film. The talent of the crew who made Sunrise is all to evident and that ,in my opinion, makes a great film.

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  2. michi1st

    Sunrise (1927) is an extremely interesting piece of early, American cinema because it is one of the early films that set the foundation for what cinema is today. Not long before this movie was made, films were just short reels of moving images of simple tasks that people perform. They did not really tell a story or serve much purpose in terms of entertainment value. When film started to actually be used to tell stories, shots were static (no tracking) and level/ (no extreme angles). Murnau’s 1922 film, Nosferatu, is a good example of this. If there were any extreme shots, they weren’t memorable. Sunrise was interesting as it used angles and tracking to move the story. It was revolutionary compared to what else was being made during its time.

    That being said, I personally prefer Nosferatu, to this film. This film included shots and scenes that were completely unnecessary to this movie and purely put in there for comic relief (i.e. the entire montage of the couple suddenly getting along again). It’s a shame because Murnau’s German expressionism and use of chiaroscuro lighting was phenomenal in Nosferatu. I went into Sunrise with high expectations for something like that, but it was mostly an experiment in camera work rather than lighting. It was strange watching parts of Sunrise, because the acting was very similar to parts of Nosferatu as well. For example, the way that the farmer was standing (hunched and menacing) was very, very similar to Nosferatu’s posture.

    I think what is difficult about silent films is that the acting, when it isn’t supposed to be comical, comes off as comical for a modern audience. In a silent film, there are no voices to carry emotions. So the actors have to over-exaggerate everything to pass that emotion along. It was kind of strange hearing laughter in the room when something was not supposed to be funny.

    In conclusion, this film, although not my favorite Murnau film, is special in its own way. The technical advances (in terms of camera usage) this film utilized was stunning for its time and definitely deserved the Oscar it received for it. The lighting for me was a bit of a disappointment as it did not add or detract from the film in ways that it did in Nosferatu. Lastly, the soundtrack was really important in this film. Silent films with musical soundtracks come off much differently than those that don’t. The music really sets much of the tone for the scenes and definitely helps keeping the viewers attention. The use of diegetic sound in this film was also interesting as it adds a whole other layer to the movie than just the non-diegetic sound. Overall, it was a good movie. Not my favorite, but still a good movie.

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  3. satchi ⋅

    Although the beginning was rather slow for me, I was surprised at how a film with hardly any dialogue was able to draw me in so completely. Overall, the story was simple, yet familiar and still so relevant to people today. The acting, while a tad overdone in my opinion, had the ability to convey the messages perfectly. I especially enjoyed the lead male actor. His body language and figure worked for both his creepy moments and his cute loving moments, transitioning from a hunchback sort of pose into a puppy-like form. I also enjoyed the contrast of the two lead women, the wife and the city girl. The city girl was portrayed so over-the-top and crazy, while the wife was almost the picture of childlike innocence. I really liked the wife, she was so sweet and cute.

    I’d have to say the most memorable scene for me had to be the scene with the drunken pig. I really hope that pig wasn’t actually drunk during filming though….

    I also really enjoyed the costume choice and character design for the man. HIs slightly large coat in the beginning really did add to the impression of a brooding hunchback, along with his slight stubble. Once he got the stubble shaved off and cleaned up a tad, he really did look more cute and youthful, and not as menacing. I really liked how the transition worked in almost physically setting the new moods from the scary part to the happier segment of the film. In the third section, where you think all has gone wrong again, the man regains a bit of his previous shaggy look, again bringing you back to a “ghost” of the menacing image in the beginning.

    Overall, I thought the movie worked. It was also interesting to hear a bit of backstory to the production as well, as in the use of midgets and children to create depth, as well as the fact that in order to get two images on the screen, it had to be physically shot in halves. Modern technology has made effects like this so easy to do it was really eye-opening to hear that it took that much work to do effects like that in the beginning.

    And lastly, I think I would want to watch this movie again. ^^

    Satchi

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  4. janey ⋅

    Sunrise was the second silent film I watched last week. The other was Ozu’s, Dragnet Girl, which I watched in class, and there was no music or sound whatsoever in that film. So, in comparison to that, I really enjoyed Marnau’s film.

    I have to admit, I thought that facial expressions and gestures of the actors and actresses were a bit extreme and funny at times, but it made the story understandable with even with the few captions. For example, when the male lead and the mistress share a passionate kiss, or when the male lead is about to push his wife out of the boat, but suddenly stops himself.

    As for the use costume, I thought it was interesting that the wife was blonde and was mostly dressed in white or light colors and the mistress was a brunette and wore dark clothing throughout most of the film. I felt that that was an obvious way to distinguish between the good girl and the bad girl.

    For me, the most memorable scene was also the drunken pig. I hope they didn’t really get the pig drunk, but it was a pretty comical scene in the film.

    Overall, I liked the film. I think watching it once was good enough for me, but who knows.

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  5. Richard Specht ⋅

    I was really surprised with how much I actually ended up enjoying the movie after it had finished. This whas my first time to watch a silent film and maybe even my first time seeing a black and white movie. When it started, I did not think it to be very enjoyable because of the lack of voice audio and the film being sped up in several shots. The audio that the movie did have helped move the movie along and alllowed the viewers to feel certain emotions and care about the characters in the movie. I enjoyed several scenes in the movie such as the city date the couple shared and the pig escaping and drinking what I believe was wine and stumbling a little bit afterwards. It was refreshing to see the main protagonist not kill his wife and refind his love for her. As for the plot, it was not too far off of modern movie plots, so it was very easy to follow. By the end of the movie I was happy to have seen it and glad I was able to follow it and understand it.

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  6. Lynn

    Sunrise (1927) was one of the only black and white silent films I have seen, and while this had an effect on the way I viewed the movie, I found myself easily adjusting to the genre and being able to enjoy the overall experience.

    In a way this film is very timeless because it draws its main strength through portraying human emotion since their are no spoken words, which is universal. Through expressionism you develop an understanding of the characters.

    Parts of the film went slowly for me, mainly because there were some scenes that in my opinion were not needed/erroneous to the plot, and probably also because of my own history of watching movies.

    I found the portrayal of the two different women interesting as well as the portrayal of the man. The woman from the city was portrayed as “modern” and had “loose morals” and tried to convince the man to murder his wife and run away with her.

    The wife was a complete contrast, portrayed as very innocent and submissive. The loyal wife and mother. She easily forgave her husband after he tried to kill her (geez haha) and almost dies anyway when the boat gets caught in the storm.

    The man is a bit of a headcase in my opinion. He acts aggressively and violently with the flip of a switch, yet is never called out on it. He gets away with almost kiling his wife, pulling a knife on the guy who was flirting with her, and then almost killing the woman from the city. Even if he never would have actually gone through with killing his wife, to even plan it out and seriously consider it is frightening.

    Overall I thought the movie was interesting and I was surprised that it held my attention and made me laugh the way it did.

    Technically it was pretty amazing that the city was completely built for the movie and to learn of the ways they did the effects back in the 20’s and how much more cumbersome and involved the process was back then.

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    • Richard Specht ⋅

      I totally agree with you on this. I like your analysis of the two women being portrayed as modern and classic. If only more wives were more like the wife in this movie, there would be a lot more good in the world. As for the man, well, he is a headcase. I do not believe that he ever planned to kill his wife, but the fact that he did consider it is a bit scary when you think about it.

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      • ken032192

        I also agree with your views on the film, especially with how the man is such a psycho. I mean, just how insane can he really get over killing his wife? It’s good that he ended up not killing her in the end, but just the thought that he even dared to attempt it is frightening indeed… no way in hell would I ever want to be with that husband if I was a woman myself.

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    • Chaitea ⋅

      Even I was surprised that the wife actually forgave him so soon after he attempted to KILL her. Happened in just few hours! It’d have taken days if not months usually for people to forget something like an almost being killed by your husband!

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  7. hanaji0 ⋅

    Even though they had limited techniques available at that time compared to the one we have today, the movie, “Sunrise” does not make viewers feel that limitation of the techniques at all. At the beginning, there are some overlapping shots. When the two trains come from different direction as if there are going to crash, this kind of uniqueness creates a great expectation that this film will entertain the viewers for sure. Since it is a silent film, I realized that the movement of actors seems to be bigger than today. It sometimes almost makes me feel like watching a play. Some shots seem to be fast forward, which makes them look like a funny slapstick show.

    When the story begins, text appears to explain the basic information about the characters. Some text shots appear more than once repeatedly to emphasize that the couple used to be happy being together. This part reminds me fairy tale or Japanese kamishibai I read and heard when I was a little child. Moreover, when the city girl tells the man to kill his wife, the text, “Can’t she get drowned?”, disappears as if it is melting. Following that, she asks him,” Come to the city.”, the font size of this text is much bigger than other texts. Accordingly, Murnau successfully managed to use the text shots to express the mood and characters’ feeling. Therefore, without hearing actual voice, viewers can easily imagine the situations. Background music also helps to create the mood in different scenes. When the couple is in love again and has fun together, the music is very bright and cheerful. When boat is swallowed up by the waves, the music was very powerful and scary. This explains the importance of sound track music in a film to enhance the quality of the film.

    The story itself is very simple. One man who has a family has an affair with a city girl but realizes how much he loves his wife at the end. Since it is easy to understand and universal story, these techniques Murnau adapted are more and more efficient and makes the film special.

    Although I have not watched silent films many times yet, this film makes me wonder fascination of silent films.

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  8. Roger Murdock ⋅

    In Sunrise, F.W. Murnau portrays struggling farmer who is at the mercy of moneylenders from big banks in urban cities who have depleted him of his farm and money. As his farm gets taken away from him, his love for his farm, the countryside, and his wife simultaneously fade away. In his struggle, the man finds solitude with an attractive woman from the city who seduces him and convinces him to kill his wife so that he can ditch his life as a farmer and move to the city. Initially hesitant, the woman from the city wins over the man who agrees to the plan.

    Murnau depicts the farm with leafless oak trees, which are identical to many of the nature paintings by German Romantic painter Caspar David Freidrich, who, over one hundred years before, depicted paintings with similar values that Murnau strives to portray. In Friedrich’s Abbey in the Oakwood (1809), he depicts a barren landscape, with dead oak trees with Gothic ruins. In the foreground, a freshly dug grave with crosses lies in front of Church ruins. Friedrich’s composition serves as a metaphoric urge to “return to nature” to find virtue, where the Gothic churches of the city’s are a thing of the past and must be buried. Murnau turns Friedrich’s German Romanticism beliefs into a modern interpretation, where the seductive woman from the city, as well as the sleazy man at the barbershop, act as motifs of urban corruption.

    Watching this film now in 2013, creates an interesting juxtaposition between what is considered modern and what is considered outdated. On one hand, it is a silent film that in comparison to contemporary films is extremely outdated; yet, it depicts a modern interpretation of German Romantic values with obvious influence in the set design. For myself as a viewer, I particularly enjoyed the scene which I believed captured Murnau’s ode to German Romanticism where, after portraying the man struggling to win back his wife after she learns of his cruel intentions, he finally in a church cries in her lap, metaphorically repenting for his sins, and they fall back in love. As they leave the church and walk back into the city, Murnau depicts the city turning into their farm as they embrace in the middle of the street.

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  9. Tim ⋅

    It was the first silent film I have managed to finish watching and even though I was sceptical about it at first, I must admit that I actually ended up enjoying it a lot.

    I especially loved the fact that even though the story takes place in 1927, it is still so relevant and applicable in modern world.
    I agree with the previous comments about it being slow, as I also found it to be a bit of a drag at first, and though that the actual sequence of the plot was rather odd. (IMO the re-wedding scene should have taken place somewhere at the very end of the film).

    Also the acting was a bit over the top in places, however you have to give it credit, since it is a silent film after all and actors were trying their best to express their emotions without using any words. Silent films have a unique language of their own, which is made out of emotions and requires a lot of talent in order to pass those messages along to the viewer. Yet I agree with michi1st about the fact that some scenes were not supposed to be humorous, but nevertheless made us all laugh.

    But of course there were some wonderful camera techniques, which must have been quite astonishing at the time, especially bearing in mind the fact that this film was shot almost 100 years ago. I was also amazed to hear that the whole “city”, was actually a set inside a studio which was specifically built for this film, as well as lot of cool production tricks such as the use of midgets and children to create the depth of field.
    As a huge music fan, I must also mention the musical accompaniment that I found to be excellent, completely suits the mood of the story and each particular scene, and complements the film well.

    Overall an emotional (sometimes of tad bit over the top), captivating, and at all times enjoyable silent film.

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  10. Hosta Mahogey ⋅

    Aside from the relatively simple story, 1927’s Sunrise is full of innovation, creativity, and surprises. The cinematography, which is seemingly rudimentary for today’s standard, is well above and beyond its time. The tracking shots literally took the audience through some of the scenery and made me think “how the hell did they do that back then?” Aside from that, the sets were the biggest standout in my opinion. They were so grandiose and lavish that I felt truly immersed in the narrative of the film. The acting was also superb, although over the top at times.

    In my opinion, the script is the unsung hero that really made Sunrise feel cohesive and a truly great film overall. The well thought out writing kept the story twisting and turning, but always making sense. The progression of the film is super exciting to watch, as well as very believable (as much as a film can be anyways).

    Finally, the post production effects are intriguing. The shots which contained three scenes at once are phenomenal; especially when I learned that they had to do it completely analog and not digitally. The miniature sets of the city are a marvel as well.

    Overall, I found Sunrise to be a very good film. The acting, directing , score, cinematography, set design, and much more were all on point.

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  11. ken032192

    Being one of the very first silent films I’ve ever watched in my entire life so far, I feel honored to say that “Sunrise” was quite a hilariously entertaining movie from beginning to end. For me, it was an interesting combination of romantic comedy and slapstick humor in one black and white film in the late 1920s. Even if there’s a lack of sound or dialogue in the entire film, there’s no denying how much entertainment can be had throughout this silent film, and it was that enjoyable for me.

    The story, while being quite over-the-top at certain times, was quite quirky and funny. I liked the fact that the movements of the characters in almost every scene were quite fast-forwarded to a hilarious effect, as well as their actions and facial expressions being very broad and overdramatic most of the time. Even the random moments where the characters’ “dialogue” are shown in a black background with text on it were quite sporadic and unpredictably funny, with most of them making me laugh at how ridiculous they were, such as at the beginning when the husband and the woman talked about escaping to the city and the “killing” of his wife. “Sell your farm… come with me to the City.”, “…and my wife?”, “Couldn’t she get drowned?”, instant comedy gold there! There were some scenes being more memorable than others as well. My favorites were the barber scene and the drunken pig scene at the carnival, because both were really well done and were packed with humorous moments, such as the creepy man trying to hit on the husband’s wife, only to be threatened by the husband with his knife pulled out but soon put away, and the struggling attempt of bringing the drunken pig back to where it was. Both moments kept me laughing for quite a while, and I’m glad they kept me entertained with the comedic appeal each one had.

    The characters were quite charming in their own ways, though they can be a bit nonsensical at times. I find the husband to be a good protagonist, though he definitely has a number of flaws character-wise, and can be really insane. The fact that he had an affair with the woman, who wanted to escape with him to the city and forced him to kill his wife is so extreme. I also find it rather odd of him to suddenly try to kill the woman, but then ends up hugging her, realizing he cannot kill his lover. The sudden change in his personality in situations like this can be so awkward at times, that it almost seems like the man just can’t make up his mind, and just changes his decision at the last moment. This is especially evident in how he actually attempted to kill his wife like how the woman mentioned, only to suddenly regret his own actions, realizing how much he loves and cares for his wife that he just cannot see her dead. Heck, he shows just how much he loves and cares about her for the rest of the movie anyways, especially towards the end when he thought she was dead and mourned for her, only to be relieved that she was alive after nearly choking the woman he had an affair with to death. While the wife is sweet and innocent as to how any other wife would be, I just find it unnatural for her husband to be so violent and insane at times, even if he is being a bit overprotective to her, like the aforementioned knife threat he did to the man at the barber shop. I swear, as much as he may be a loving and caring husband, he should really calm down more and take some chill pills, he’s just way too crazy in general. If not for his maniacal behavior, I would have liked the husband’s character a bit more otherwise.

    Overall, I enjoyed watching the entire movie and had a lot of fun laughs with it in my late 1920s trip back to the past. As the very first film to watch in class, it was a very solid choice, and there was definitely plenty of entertainment to be had with it as well. Perhaps I should watch other silent films with romantic comedy like this… if they’re just as hilarious and memorable as this one sometime!

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  12. MaryA ⋅

    I am not a huge fan of classical black and white films, especially ones with no spoken dialogues. Although people may argue that classical black and white films are the foundation of any modern day films, they never really appealed to me to be something so significant. So black and white films have never really been on my favourite film list. When we were told that it was a silent movie I truly did not anticipate anything more than what I had in mind about black and white films. However, “Sunrise” has significantly changed the way I perceive black and white films.

    What intrigued me the most was the cinematography of the film, despite the fact this film was produced in the late 1920’s the techniques used are advanced and way beyond it’s time. In the scene where the husband is contemplating on killing his wife, a ghostly figure of the woman from the city seductively clings onto the husband. Considering the level of capability of post-production process at the time (I assume at that time the editing is done by literally cutting and sticking films together) I think it was pretty well done and it didn’t look too cheesy. In fact I think it conveyed the husband’s mental struggle of choosing between his own desire and moral really well.

    Another thing I liked about the film was the variety of shots used, I personally liked the close up shot of the wife’s facial expression when her husband informed her about their plan to the city, her face slowly but gradually turned into a huge sweet smile. I felt that the shot brought out and enhanced the sweetness and innocence of her character.

    Also, I think the Murnau skillfully utilized music and silence to create a certain emotion. In the scene in which the husband finds the bulrushes floating in the ocean and his wife is no where to be seen, the jarring music stops and it goes completely silent when the shot changes to the bulrushes. It conjured up an emotion anxiety within me. I think as much as music has the function to set a mood, silence itself is very profound and can conjured up various emotions for the viewers.

    Overall, I very much enjoyed the film and I am now curious about the “making of” certain scenes in the film.

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  13. Tatsuya ⋅

    “Sunrise” (1927) was the first silent film I have ever seen. I have seen several short silent clips which are shown in black and white but all of them are around ten to twenty minutes long so the stories do not develop as it does in the film “Sunrise”.

    Characters’ gestures and expressions are very obvious and music helps to understand each situation in the story. Also, texts are shown at some points so that clearly explain each situation. I think music (sound tracks) really help audiences to understand and get attracted. Indeed, “Sunrise” is the first film which has sound tracks. Actors and actresses necessarily overact their face expressions and all of the carry emotions very well on their expressions.

    As the story, it develops slowly but dramatically and gives a thoughtful look at the relationship between man and woman. The scenes of the story are maybe different to every one because every one can imagine differently how the characters have conversations. Expressing characters’ mood without saying actual words is very difficult but audiences can easily understand it through their expressions and sound tracks, also this American film can be seen by anyone who do not even know English.

    It is very enjoyable and I gazed into the story and wondered how it changed step by step. My overall opinion for this film is positive and I would like to watch some other silent films when I have a chance.

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  14. Chaitea ⋅

    Sunrise is one of the first silent movies I have watched completely and enjoyed. The camera work, character expressions, contexts used, plot, music all work together to create a story without words and convey the emotions of the story to the viewer. This was very interesting.

    I also noticed that even though we are so used to watching films with speech, when there is an absence of speech, viewers are more drawn into the film as they actually have to pay attention to what they are watching to understand the story.

    The text in black screens are there to guide the viewers but even without them, because of the very expressive facial expressions of the actors and actresses, based on the context and other symbols/signals used in the film, viewers can reach certain inferences about where the story is going and what the story is.

    I liked how the conflict between good and evil, temptations and choices people face as shown in the film. The first struggle is when the man go through with having to choose between the city girl and his wife. At first, because he was tempted by his lustful thoughts for the city girl, he decides to follow through with her plan to commit murder to separate himself from the wife. Then, the film uses various signals to indicate to the wife as well as to the viewer of the man’s intentions – such as the crying baby, barking dog who came after the wife (even jumped into the water) and the ever darkening expression of the man. Then, when the moment of confrontation came, he couldn’t kill his defenceless wife and hurries to surface. Then, in the city after they re-commit to each other, he is tested in the salon when the attractive modern girl asks him whether he wanted a manicure- this was a turning point in the building trust of the wife as she watched him refuse.
    The man was very humanly portrayed in the film. He was tempted, made mistakes, was forgiven, was angry, competitive and so on… he basically displayed a wide range of human qualities.
    The wife on the other hand was mostly portrayed as the “good” force in the film. As someone noted in a previous comment, she always wore brighter colored clothes and her hair color was also bright. Another thing I noticed was that, whenever the man was about to make a bad choice which he wouldn’t have been able to turn back from, the direct/indirect presence of the wife was what stopped him. First example is when he was about to kill her – her innocence and plea for life stopped him. Then, when he was displeased several times in the city and almost got into a fight, she was able to stop him by diverting his attention. Finally, when he thought she died and was about to murder the woman from the city, it was the news of the wife being found and brought back into the house that stopped him from committing murder.
    The city girl on the other hand was always portrayed as evil, with darker colors, high heels, modern style with characteristics such as selfish and meanness (shown in the way she asked the house owner at the start of the film, to clean her shoes even though the house owner was eating and the city girl was about to go out). She was the one who tempted the man directly when he was with her as well as indirectly in his thoughts.

    In conclusion, I really liked the movie – more than I thought I would. The lack of sounds helped me engage more with the emotions of the movie and observe more of the visual cues presented in the film. There were some scenes which were there for comedy rather than serving to further the plot (the pig scene, the scene where a gentleman kept pushing up a lady’s dress strap) but it was an enjoyable and engaging film to watch.

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  15. Jordan ⋅

    Sunrise represents everything that silent film does well, but also showcases a hint of the more complex stories that are to come in the future “talkie” films. Despite it’s lack of dialog, one thing this film does well is tell a story through event action and relatable character reaction. The film progresses in a way that dialog isn’t really needed to showcase the simple story that is being told. From any narrative film work, both old and new, one common element that makes a successful story is the progression of action. Having characters describe their feelings, or what their thinking about is just horrible script writing and is seldom entertaining. I think one of the most important things modern filmmakers can appreciate from this movie is how integral character action is to progressing from event to event. Other aspects of the film I enjoyed were the usage of lighting and creation of atmosphere during the night scenes. Also the make-shift tracking shots were quite well done considering the technical limitations of the time.

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  16. A$AP Nemo ⋅

    Initially I didn’t expect to like Sunrise as much as I did. However I was pleasantly surprised by the movie. It made me think about my own relations in context along with the movie. I think the notion of getting bored and over looking a woman who loves you for something “new” and “exciting” is one that almost any man can relate to. This for me is initially what pulled me in. I remember fervently resenting the mistress. It initially escalated when she originally suggests killing the wife, only to crescendo after we are somewhat lead to believe that the wife might be dead. I think it was a very good emotional tactic to have the wife appear so “angelic”, granted , I felt it kind of plays on some light vs dark notions of good and bad (as the wife is blonde and the mistress is brunette. I could have done without the majority of the city scenes though. The barbershop was a bit confusing, yet it significantly highlighted some issues with the couple. With that being said the scene I least enjoyed was the one with the pig. I felt that whole scene could have been left out and there still would have been enough “light” moments for the audience to digest. Campy as it was, I have to admit that I enjoyed Sunrise. I’d probably silently play it in the background along with different music if I were having a party.

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  17. Yuki ⋅

    Sunrise (1927) was the second silent film I’ve ever watched. Since the film is very old, I am a secondary audience, but I enjoyed the story and its beautiful shots.

    I was surprised by its simplicity. For example, no one in this film had a specific name. They were all like, “The Man”, “The Wife”, “The Woman From the City”, etc. Even the name of the place was simple, too. Just “The city”. I felt it was very unique but I’m not sure if it was unique at that time.

    I was a little bit confused by the mood or the tension of the film. It started like a romance film, but it suddenly turned out to be like a suspense film, had several scenes as a comedy, had a suspense scene again and ended up with a romantic scene. If I am asked about the genre of this film, I cannot answer. But I think it is very entertaining that you can watch comedy, suspense and romance all at once.

    To be honest, I was not satisfied with the ending. In the final scene, the man kissed his wife while the woman from the city’s carriage rolls down the hill. I thought it was so unfair. The man cheated, almost killed both his wife and the woman from the city. I expected that he would get some kind of punishment by the ending. The result was, only the woman got punishment and he lived happily ever after. I thought, personally, it was a bit cruel.

    Overall, I liked the film. Now I’m more interested in silent films.

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  18. Sunrise was a good film. To be honest, I had low expectations for this film, but I was pleasantly surprised. The pace was a little bit slow in my opinion. I did get a little bored during the part when the married couple is wandering around the city. I thought that the movie was going to end when they stepped out of the church after they crashed that wedding.

    For that time, I think that the production value was actually very good. Probably one of the most impressive things about the film was the set design. After taking into account that the whole city was just a set, it is pretty amazing.

    The film was enjoyable. It was entertaining both intentionally and unintentionally. I think that it was just the acting style of that time. It wasn’t very realistic, and the story was pretty unbelievable and a bit silly. However, I did enjoy it.

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  19. This was not the first time I have seen the movie Sunrise. Being an FMA major at Temple’s main campus we were showed a clip from this movie before as an example of silent film. Over all I did really enjoy this movie. Of course there was over dramatic acting at some points, but it being a silent film you need to show the emotion more since they can’t hear it in your voice. For its time this movie also had a lot of very difficult camera movements and a lot of shots that went on for it seemed like minutes. The one scene that stood out to me the most in the film would have to be when the city girl asks him to kill his wife, sell the farm, and move to the big city with her. This is the first main conflict in the film and it’s a pretty big one at that. Sedgwick really dropped the ball on us in this scene. It starts off as the introduction of their affair in the movie and shows the characters personalities at the same time. You find out that the city girl is a typical FemFatal. This is a women actress who doesn’t care what she destroys in order to get what she wants. Then you find out the man is someone who is conflicted because he still has feelings for his wife, but the FemFatal is doing everything in her power to convince him to kill her. So he is trapped between the old and the new. The movie then proceeds and he finally realizes that his wife is the only women for him and after that lovely day in the city disaster strikes. Even though you can almost predict what was going to happen at this plot point, it still worked out very well. Also this movie had a very predicting ending. I knew what was going to happen before it happened, but you can’t fault the director on that in a silent film. Over all I enjoyed this silent film more than the others I have seen in the past. Very well worth the time and very well put together.

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  20. Chroma ⋅

    Sunrise (1927) was the second silent, black-and-white film I have seen. Growing up watching movies that includes color pictures and talking characters has somewhat hindered my appreciation for the movies that came before them and the way the film industry developed over time. Comparing the way films are constructed in the modern era, most people really overlook a lot of the interesting, technical work that went into this movie, such as experimental camera work and the use of small children and midgets to create depth in a scene.
            Viewers really have to depend on the acting (however over-emphasized it appeared) to get a feel for the characters thoughts & emotions. For the time period, it was necessary because there was no sound; today, it appears comical, no matter how serious the scene was intended to be.
            The farmer really threw me for a loop; first he loved his wife, then he completely disregarded his stable marriage to a good woman for a mistress that had him wrapped around her finger, and finally falls in love with the wife all over again…after he tried to kill her. I suppose for the purpose of having a good storyline and a happy ending, the wife had to forgive him.
            This wasn’t particularly my favorite silent film, but it has prodded my interest and I intend to seek out more.

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  21. $hur

    “Ahhhh” Sunrise was a magnificent peace of work. From the vivid body languages, facial expressions, breath taking scenery and the usage of the environment. A good example of the actor using facial expressions to show his mood was at the Barber Shop. While the husband was being groomed, his wife was being harassed by a stranger. To show his aggression, the husband made disgruntled facial expressions and agitated body movements in which the viewer could tell how he felt about the situation. A great example of how the director used the surroundings to illustrate a scene was when the husband and wife were kissing in the middle of the street causing a traffic jam in which showed their unconditional love for each other. Last but not lease, the musical element of the film was well executed. The director changed the theme of the music to adjust to specific scenes. For example, when the husband returned home to recruit a search party for his wife who was lost at sea, the music went from sad and low tempo to a higher tempo to show that finding her in an adequate time was paramount. In conclusion, this was my first Black and White film and I enjoyed every minute of it. After watching this film, I have sparked a new interest in Black and White film. “I think in order to move forward into the future, you need to know where you’ve been” with that being said I am truly honored to know the origins of film as I start my journey in this wonderful field.

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  22. maiorengi

    Although The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari as being one of my favorite films, I’ve never actually watched and never been a big fan of silent film. It automatically makes me think of Charlie Chaplin but not any other. It also tends to be classic comedy like Charlie Chaplin has done through in many silent films. What is good about this kind of film genre such as silent black and white film is that it transcends a language barrier even if it is a comedy which is not easily understood by people from different cultures. The film Sunrise had a same effect as most of silent comedy or romantic film are. The words are rarely shown throughout the film except for the little adding information to make sense of the story line. Besides, the facial expression or gesture are excessively exaggerated, again like many other silent films, some people say it’s too much that it takes away the sense of ” mundane life” of what they experience in their daily lives.

    In the beginning, I was not excited about watching and did not set up any high expectation for this film. Wrong. But up until the scene where we, the audience, find the husband is cheating, the storyline was a bit slow because the scenes were more focused on to the mistress. After she, the mistress, tells him to kill his wife, the story moves a lot faster.The film tends to use repeated phrase for two or three times throughout the film. One time, phrase is used as a backup explanation of the scene such as “They used to be like children and laughing and smiling.” Another time, it is used to bring up the tension of comedy such as the phrase ” Come with me to the city.” ” Yes.. And my wife?”

    Music plays an amazing role in the specific scene where the husband takes his wife to the river. It starts with a happy music but the dark, low keys or minor keys are placed behind it to let us foresee what’s coming. Besides the sound of chime always works as the turning point of something to realize or wakes up from nightmare.

    Towards the ending, there is a scene where the two, husband and wife, stops and kiss regardless of what is being around.
    Here, they first looks like going to the garden as if the time stops and traffic looks like is made to open a road for them. I was pretty fascinated by the editing technique knowing that they did not have an editing software back then.

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  23. I hadn’t seen too many black and white films before Sunrise (1927). So when I had first heard that it was a black and white film and on top of that, it was a silent film (which I hadn’t seen too many of either), I wasn’t not expecting too much. In my mind, with the lack of knowledge and experience of black and white silent films, I had an image similar to the very comical Mickey Mouse on the Steamboat. While Sunrise did have that comedy aspect, and the over reactions to help fill the void space from absence of words, it had much more than that.

    While there were many slow parts, and parts where I believed were too fast…there were so many different dynamics to this film than I had originally anticipated from a 20’s film.

    The main plot of the loyal wife and the cheating husband, who then realizes that he had everything with her and tries to win her back isn’t anything uncommon. How easily she forgave him after he attempted to kill her was something that I did not agree with. No matter how much you love someone, they shouldn’t try to kill you…and if they do…um…no. Just, no.
    But, alas, she forgives him and they become a happy couple once again.
    I wasn’t a fan of that…to be honest. I would have enjoyed a more cynical and dark ending to this attempted murder movie, but then who would really want to watch that, right?

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  24. Pingback: Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans | screengrabsaz

  25. Tad ⋅

    Sunrise is the first silent film I’ve watched in a long time. Older movies usually have the problem of being too slow for me because the editing style used back in those days favored having a longer amount of time between cuts compared to more modern movies that use fast cuts instead. So when I watched it, knowing it was older and silent really left me a big apprehensive about watching it. Despite this Sunrise’s music and the story was really able to draw me in. Like others said, the story of a classic love triangle is timeless so that helped make it fairly enjoyable as well.

    Even though I thought the story was pretty progressive for its time (A man is seduced by a city girl and kills his wife to be with his lover) I thought it was a little unbelievable like others have mentioned. However I think the reason why a movie with these kind of themes was even allowed to play was because the wife and the lover were representative of the “big city” and “country life”. With the lover(big city) trying to tempt the husband and draw him in and become corrupted, when at the end he realized that his wife(simple country life) is what was best.

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