2014/Screening #1: Sunrise (1927)


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 presently 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) and 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/


26 thoughts on “2014/Screening #1: Sunrise (1927)

  1. I think this was a good film to start with, since it makes obvious how films have changed since the silent era. Even more so than some silent films I’ve watched, the exaggerated movements and reactions were blown up to the point of seeming silly. There shouldn’t be anything comical about a woman getting strangled, but everyone in the room still laughed because the man seemed to unreasonably fly off the handle.

    The movie also showed a different plot progression than most of us were used to. The climax, which I believe is the man repenting and begging forgiveness in the church, happens basically in the middle of the film. Since it happens so early, a large amount of time is spent watching the couple goof off. It doesn’t really advance the plot or build/release tension, so the audience is stuck, not really knowing what to feel and wondering what the point is.

    I think if an identical script were reworked to follow more modern conventions for character actions and pacing, it would probably be charming story of redemption, but the time difference just makes it too difficult to relate to for the average college student.

    One thing that I thought was interesting was how strongly the film implied the importance of family life on a farm. It drew a very clear connection between the farm and the wife (the right choice) and the girl living in the city (the wrong choice). This seems like a really early example of American film telling everyone about a specific set of values.


  2. Having watched a number of silent films, both classical and modern (as well as for school and for personal enjoyment), I was not as disconnected with the movie as others who are used to ‘talkies’. This film, however, did not interest me as much as other older silent films such as Le Voyage Dans la Lun (1902) or The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919). The reason for this is its mediocre story line.

    It is a story about a love triangle- a popular theme in the modern ‘chick flick’ genre (which raises the question: was there a ‘chick flick’ genre or set of movies that only women went to see?). So, it can easily be guessed which woman ends up with the man. With such a foreseeable ending, it is imperative to have an interesting journey. The journey, unfortunately, seemed badly planned, if at all. The scenes between the church scene and nighttime boat ride (about half of the film) could be removed without changing the overall understanding of the story. In fact, I would argue it should be removed, because it makes the wife character less believable; a woman who was almost murdered by a man would not caress and comfort him 10 minutes later.

    While I have given this film a harsh critique, I find it interesting that a modern love triangle movie would create more drama by focusing the audience’s attention on the two characters having an affair, while this film focused on repairing the broken bond between husband and wife. This shows the difference of purpose in movies made in the 1930s versus today and, relatedly, the cultural shift.


  3. It’s impressive how the film industry developed throughout the years. However, it is even more amazing how the movies were produced in the past. In a time where filmmakers could only count on few equipments and limited sources of media production, the movie Sunrise turned out to be surprisingly good. Although the lack of dialogue can be a bit tiring sometimes, the script and interpretation of the actors were very clear. Therefore, I didn’t feel like the lack of sound and dialogue affected the understanding of the movie at all. However, it did affect the way the movie was developed.

    An interesting point that I noticed while watching the movie was that because it is a silent movie, the facial expressions and reactions of the cast had always to be quite exaggerated in order to emphasize the meaning of the scenes. Of course, that is a very typical characteristic of silent movies, which make them funny in a unique way.

    Although it is far from being flawless, I think “Sunrise” is a great movie considering the limited resources and circumstances of the time it was produced.


  4. I thought this is a good movie as the first one of our screenings because the story and relationship is very clear and easy to understand even it is a silent film. I have not watched old american films well so this film might be the oldest one for me. I enjoyed this film more than I expected.

    There were so many rough editing points I could see in the film compared to modern films. I know it was impossible and was still good work in 1927, but I thought the rough editing points could often distract audiences very easily.

    The shade and shadow was good in this film and it helps see the sense of depth and the facial expressions of the casts in many scenes. maybe it may look exaggerated because this is a black-and-white film. The sound music was also ok and helped to tell characters feelings. I thought there were not many sound effect though.

    One thing I though interesting is the expressions, especially facial expressions, of the casts. Their expressions were kind exaggerated in many scenes because this is a silent film. I thought it makes sense very well and is an effectual method to tell the story without dialogue in a silent film, however, I thought that other silent films also might become like comedy because of the exaggerated expressions. I mean, this film, the story is a comedy too so the exaggerated expressions works well. However, how about a tragic drama in silent? I am not sure, but I thought it might be difficult to show a tragic drama in silent because exaggerated expressions look funny in many case like this movie.


  5. I suppose I am not used to silent films that last longer than 10 mninutes or so. That said, this film was very different from modern films.

    The attempted murder of the wife is what we think the climax will be- however, it is only the beginning. Not only that, but it is forgotten by our heroine within 10 minutes. This is definitely what made me laugh, since it is so detached from a real female mind. Back in the time of this film, it was considered normal for a wife to be loyal to her husband, no matter what. This apparently also means forgetting that she was almost murdered by him in a previous scene. However, by the magic of salvation, all is forgotten! I know this was the thought pattern of the times, but it’s so ridiculous that I can’t help but laugh.

    Another thing that seems out of place is the fact that the husband might just be a homocidal maniac. Not only did he try to get his wife out of the picture by killing her, he also tried to kill a random man because he was hitting on her! Right after he tried to kill her anyway! Not to mention, he also attempted to kill his mistress twice. However, the movie suddenly cuts off with a happy ending. Well, I guess if he didn’t actually murder anyone after five tries, no harm, right.

    I also feel that the film has far to much filler. Yes, many of the leisure scenes were to show that the wife has wants, and the husband cares for her. However, things like the pig scene could have been easily cut in order to make time for solidifying loose ends of the story. These kind of scenes seem like a diversion with no goal.

    Overall, I enjoyed the movie, though I am not sure it was for the reasons I was supposed to. It made me wonder the reactions of the audience at the film’s debut. However, the cinematography was done extremely well, especially for its time.


  6. Nowadays Sunrise looks outdated in many ways. However, what amazed me is the use of different technics/styles/pictures/symbols in the picture.

    As opposed to most of the ancestors, Sunrise is rich for artistic technics such as flashback (previous happiness of husband & wife), overlay of shots (Devil-like seducing scene, Cupids over the head etc.), contrasting shots in Eisenstein manner (kiss of lovers/parent kisses a child), powerful camera angles (following the main character from the back, showing the village by going up), and using chromo key (husband & wife kiss on the road).
    In addition, the director uses lots of tricks to create an atmosphere of suspense or fear; for instance when the city girl proposes the plan to drown protagonist’s wife – the text is drowning, making us feel like in the middle of swamp. When husband takes his wife on a boat, we see that the dog feels there’s something wrong – this image is still often used nowadays, but back then it wasn’t common.

    Apropos the story, even if we face the fact that it is outdated, or not as much sophisticated in terms of a message, it clearly reminds me the Chekhov’s structure, “If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall (in Sunrise – straw that saves the wife), in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there” – it is simple, but organized; everything is in place and balanced.

    It is possible to find mistakes or something that makes us smile when we see it. We can mention white powder on husband’s jacket after wife hugged him, or we can see conflict in objects’ position, but in this case – it is pointless, as Sunrise is an example of something that gave birth to many pictures, which next generations liked and like now. As we say, “respect your elders”.


  7. I enjoyed this film for a few different reasons. Mostly, it was simple. Although many in class were giggling at the exaggerated expressions and reactions of the The Man and The Wife, I believe I understand the necessity of it. With no outright speech, it is crucial to understand the thoughts and feelings of the characters. Yes, they were over the top, but that is exactly how you would feel if your husband tried to drown you! That concept had to come through The Wife’s face and body because it simply could not come from her words- and I loved it.
    Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans was certainly simple, but I also love the hint of artistic direction present. The Woman From the City, with her dark silky garb and dolled-up face, made a beautifully stark contrast against her rough environment of grass, dirt, and shabby countryside. The Wife was perfectly harmonious with her country home and general space, she is what you would imagine and hope for in the typical old-fashioned, stay at home wife and mother.
    The Wife was a direct foil to the character of The Woman From the City – good VS evil. The film has a clear beginning, middle, and end: The Man decides to drown The Wife;The Man attempts and fails; The Man falls back in love with The Wife and makes a full repentance through her near death. In my opinion, it is the optimal classic to begin with in our American Film Course.


  8. This was the first silent film that I’ve ever watched. I really enjoyed it because it is something compleately new to me. I noticed that there are various techniques being used to complement the lack of digetic sound. First there were text on the screen to show important speeches. I think it was an effective method although it seemed to distrupt thee continuity of time. Second, the non-digetic sound is playing for the most part to create a mood in each scene. I think this is very important because it gives an important tone that is substituting vocals. Third, the exageration in acting. Since there are no vocals, actors have to emphasize on their acting in order to convey their feelings to the audience. I would say it resembles more like theatrical acting while nowdays movies are more of mirror reflection of reality. 
    Overall I find it amusing that contemporary movies has developed from silent films and how tecchnological advancement influences it. 


  9. So this is a film about betrayal, redemption, love, tragedy, spending all your money, that spastically moving your body represents “city” ,and suggesting to kill people is no big deal in the late 1920s.

    In all seriousness, this was a pleasant surprise. A lot of older movies are sometimes not so… flowing. But this had an organized story closer to what kind of movies we have today (partially questionable.) There was a concrete plot with a problem and a resolution. Though of course the “special effects” are nothing like they are today, the overlayed shots were a nice surprise and added visual interest. Though I will say the crossing the street scene’s editing had the cars a little too close to these people which I can get was supposed to maybe represent how in-love again the couple was in but it was a little ridiculous to pull off successfully not to mention how they held up traffic while kissing in the middle of the street. Another scene to mention that tried to show how much they were in love again was the barber shop one where the man threatened another guy with a knife over trying to get his wife’s attention. But anyways, for an old and film, you were able to make a connection with the characters even if there wasn’t that much depth to them as well as feel emotions for them. As for camera work, it was really well done with more advanced techniques for its time.


  10. I think that the film was very interesting, silly, and funny. To me, as I watched it it kind of gave me an idea of what life might have been like at that time or at least an idea of their moral views. Based on the movie, I am left to assume that a traditional woman is looked upon far better than a modern woman. It is as though anything new is bad. The effects were not very good but it is a very old film so I suppose that is to be expected. I feel that the acting was very good; to be able to act without words and have the audience understand what is going on and feel happy or sad for the characters is a very impressive ability. I truely felt for the wife when she was being cheated on. She still tried to be a good wife even though she knew that he was seeing someone else. I do feel however that some parts of the movie were not realiastic. I do not think that a wife would really forgive her husband so quickly if she knew that he wanted her dead. Even if a wife would forgive her husband it wouldn’t be that quickly. Over all I feel that although the film seemed a bit over the top, I feel that it was a passable film for the time it was made.


  11. I had never seen silent film before the screening, so “Sunrise” is the first silent film I have seen. I saw it without information or plot summary, but the story was simple and I could get the main idea easily. The characteristics of two women, the woman from the city and wife, are clearly contrasting. When city woman wears black dress and smokes, the wife wears white dress and does housework. 

    However, I could not understand why did the woman from the city sticked to the husband and convinced him to kill his wife. Also, durnig the middle part which the husband and wife are enjoying the city, I could not get the child out of my head although the child would not be imprtant for the main story. 

    Beside those, I really enjoyed the film. It was a good combination with romance, comedy, and music. Even though the story starts with a little bit thrilling and then turns to the romance and comedy, the climax seems to go back the thrilling again.  The film made me not only laugh but also nervous. I did not expect that I got drawn in the film without spoken dialogue. 


  12. After I watched “Sunrise”,I felt this film has several deep meanings. The story seems simple love story, but the setting and the style of filming is very interesting. I felt the director applies a lot of cinematographic techniques to give it more intricate meaning.
    For instance, the scene where the two scenes on the one frame (superimpose) is very impressive for this old film. Although there was no digital editing system or special effects during the time, I could feel that the cinematographer tried to create the way of shooting.
    Additionally, the director applies Mis-en-Scene in this film to make the film more meaningful and artistic impression. I think the makeup and lighting are one of the significant keys on this film. Because the film is black and white and silent, the actors and actresses had to overact to tell the story to the audience. So, the heavy makeup definitely worked well to exaggerate the actors’s facial expressions. Moreover, in order to distinguish the good and enemy role, I noticed the director applies key light towards the innocent wife to whiteout her face, so on the the audience’s eye she is always white and good image.I believe that all those cinematographic skills make the film very unique. Lastly, the setting and the year of film indicates that the story would be the pre Great Depression America.


  13. First, I was impressive how silent films can success to get audiences into the story, and each characters’ emotion. Without any dialogs, Actors’ each singer action, facial expression is over acted; however, even more it makes audiences emphasize with each character’s emotions. Additionally, there are scores in any situation on the story. Scores sounds playing a role to narrate the story.

    It is also amazing that the film in a past tried to use effective techniques making their plot more persuasive even with a few equipments and limited media production. For example, this film clearly distinguishes Good and Evil, and clarifies that Good associates with White; on the other hand, Evil associates with Black. It is obvious construct that the city girl is evil and man’s wife is good in this story. The city girl is always wearing black clothes and all the scenes of her are very dark and shaky, so audience can barely define her appearance. The wife, conversely, is always wearing whitish clothes and the scenes of her are very soft and bright; additionally, it uses a lot of close up shots of her. Her face is always very cleat. Audiences can immediately understand she is a innocent, loyal girl.

    Also this film describes how American women is gradually changing. The guy and his wife is represented as a typical American family in 1920s. Men works outside for family, and female is doing house chore, taking care of a baby and very faithful for her husband. However, at the same time, in this period, flappy girls who smoked in the public, danced new dance were sexually liberated. In this story, the man is working as a former, and his wife is housewife. However, one day the city girl who is represented as a flappy girl shows up and starting ruining their “Normal” and “Happy” family life. For the guy, this new type of girls is dangerously attractive. Here, we can see how the changing role of American women affected on men.The film shows his conflict with himself which causes his unstable emotional state between the wife and the city girl. For me, it seems like that the film itself has a conflict against the chugging role of American women.

    Its topic is also “marriage” with somebody and “true love”. In this story, he has to deal with his emotional state, and rethink of “Marriage” and “True Love”. He is forgetting why he loved her and married her when he was stuck in the countryside. Therefore, he felt the new girl from the city is very attractive. however, he city girl could not be his solution to find love and think of what marriage is. He goes to the city with his wife, sees new environment, and realizes that where they used to live is the best place for them, and discover his wife’s attractiveness again. He still feels fear going back to the environment where they get used to and the city girl, but he again realizes how much important his wife is for him when he is almost about to lose her. Thus, he could get rid of the city girl and obtain the confidence that he can love her forever. the solution that he can find the true love is not to marry with the city girl, but to go to the different environment and find his wife’s attractively again, “remarriage”.
    After I have watched this film, I though even nowadays, general people, couples would face this problem. the solution of finding love and accepting each other is not escaping from each other. They need to face their problem and try to take an action to move to the next step of their relationship together.


  14. I liked the silent film “Sunrise” a lot. Although it is a silent film, the story delivered well without words. One of the interesting points of silent films would be that you have to watch the film while screening because there is no conversation and you will hear nothing except for music, so you will understand nothing if you didn’t watch it everything unlike modern films.
    This silent film is a love story and a husband finds a true love through experiencing troubles such as falling in love with a city woman, and tried to kill his wife. But, at the end, every audience feels happy because this is a happy ending film.
    One of the reasons I liked this film other than story structure is that acting was great because I understood everything such as their emotion, feelings, and thoughts even though they spoke nothing. Some people might felt that these actors were over reacting, especially their facial expression. But for me, if it was a silent film, over reaction is acceptable, and helped me to understand.
    I only have seen the silent film “Nanook of the North,” and it is a documentary film, so it was quite easy to understand. I wonder if silent films can fit to any genres of films such as horror, and action films.


  15. While watching this film I was very pleasantly surprised. My expectations of this film was very low from the beginning since I hate black and white silent films. My experience with silent films are the Lumiere Brothers, Manhatta, and Triumph of the Will which I find all of them painful to watch. The film started to get my interest when I saw the mistress persuade the married man to come out and “play”. I thought the effects on the “drown” text image was cleverly done.

    The expressions the actors made throughout the film were silly and exaggerated however it allowed the story to be told without the need of dialog. It makes sense why many old American movies were seen around the world. Without language, anyone could watch it and understand what was going on.

    I found it fascinating that many of the dramatic editing shots were done on the camera itself. Although the effects may seem rough, the fact they were able to do some of the effects (like layer images on the film) is amazing!

    The film’s was also interesting because it reflects some of the American culture in the 1920s. The roles of both man and woman is established within this film. Today, a story like this would be perceived as very misogynist. The fact that the wife gets back with her abusive husband is crazy to think of in our times. The fact that his anger was brushed off as him being passionate would be considered unnatural in today’s movies. I did however find the movie funny as well as entertaining!


  16. I really did not expect to like this film as much as I did. The ability to tell a story without dialogue, while conveying emotion with little more than the expression in the eyes, is a lost art.

    The thing that stands out in my mind is the sheer lusciousness of it. The cinematography was beautiful, and the rural imagery on the farm was evocative of a fairy-tale landscape. The strong emotions made it melodramatic. The story might have been considered sweet and romantic in its time. The man represents the volatility and capriciousness of human emotions, but I think the modern viewer can only see him as mentally ill.

    One thing that sticks out in my mind is the contrast between what is considered innocent and what is considered dangerous. The other woman is a modern, sophisticated woman, while the wife represents angelic innocence. The farm represents a quiet, simple life, while the city is chaotic and confusing. Even so, the city is where the man and wife fall in love with each other again, and participate in a symbolic remarriage. I actually thought, when watching it, that that was the end, but I was wrong. There was still a pig that they had to catch. I suppose it was necessary to include these comic relief scenes. Two peasant people having innocent adventures in the city… It’s kind of sweet. In the end, however, they return to their homestead.

    In order to enjoy a historical work such as this, you sort of have to shed the context of your own time and culture and put yourself in the time it was produced. On the surface, the story seems melodramatic and outdated, but there is a sense of yearning in the film for a simpler way of life, before the industrial revolution, when people lived off the land. Perhaps the story is not really a love story, and the man is not really a homicidal maniac, but he represents the fickle desires of man in general.


  17. I have watched some silent films before, and I think that “Sunrise” is the most interesting silent film. Before I watch this film, I thought that film industry did not have much skill during the Silent Era. However, this film has plots, and the story itself is well structured. Even though this film does not have voice, it is easy to follow the story because it uses written narration to guide audience. In addition, music makes audience to follow the characters’ feelings. These elements have a role to make a story smooth. Also, I thought that contrast between a city girl and a wife who lives in the country side is interesting. At first, a man chooses a city girl, and he tries to kill his wife. However, at the end, he tries to save his wife even though he tries to kill her. In addition, he betrays a city girl. The relationship between these three characters totally changes, and it is amazing to show these changes even though it does not have voice. Before I watch this film, I expected that the silent films are simple, but this film uses several effects and shows the complicated relationships and the feelings of characters.


  18. I had never seen silent film before the screening, so “Sunrise” is the first silent film I have seen. I saw it without information or plot summary, but the story was simple and I could get the main idea easily. The characteristics of two women, the woman from the city and wife, are contrasting. When city woman wears black dress and smokes, the wife wears white dress and does housework.

    However, I could not understand why did the woman from the city sticked to the husband and convinced him to kill his wife. Also, durnig the middle part which the husband and wife are enjoying the city, I could not get their child out of my head although the child would not be imprtant for the main story.

    Beside those, I really enjoyed the film. It was a good combination with romance, comedy, and music. Even though the story starts with a little bit thrilling and then turns to the romance and comedy, the climax seems to go back the thrilling again. The film made me not only laugh but also nourveous. I did not expect that I got drawn in the film without spoken dialogue.


  19. I thought that this film was interesting even thought it was a silent film which i do not familiar with. I really enjoyed it because the story was clear even though there is no dialogue. The story shows a role of family on a farm. A husband met a evil city girl and tried to kill his wife, but he eventually realized that he loved his wife. What I found interesting about the story was that this movie focus on the story that married couple repair their relationship. As modern movie focus more on love affair, so the story varies according to times.

    When it comes to the technique, the use of color, which are black and white, used to show the characteristics of characters in the story. For instance, a good wife wears white costume, and a evil woman wears black costume. This contract of color is used to show who is a good person or a bad person, and it makes audience easy to understand the story. Moreover, the sound was effectively used in this movie. i think that the sound is especially important in this film since there is no voices of actors so that it is used to make a mood. In addition, the action and facial expression of actors were exaggerated. As i familiar with modern movies, their acting was funny and silly. Today’s actors are different as they play a role more naturally not exaggerate even when they do not have a speech.
    Moreover, this movie made me think that the film industry had incredibly developed since the silent era. I liked this movie, but I can see modern movie is way more real and exciting. But I liked this film!


  20. This film is obviously different from contemporary films. It is a black and white film with no spoken dialogue. I actually have seen some silent films before, but “Sunrise” is the best silent film I have ever seen. Other silent films I saw before were not so interesting because I didn’t even know what they are doing sometimes.
    However, I really enjoyed “Sunrise” because the plot of its story is very clear to understand although it has no synchronized recorded sound. Also, since “Sunrise” has many funny scenes, it is not boring, and I enjoyed watching it from beginning to end.
    Actually I was impressed that this film gives audience a laugh even though it has no spoken dialogue. I think that’s because an expression on characters’ face is so good and the music is really matching the mood of the story. Since it has no spoken dialogue, “Sunrise” competes on strong techniques of characters’ expression and the music. Also, the camera angle is really good in this film. It helps audience to go easily into the world of the story. These techniques make this film entertaining and interesting work.
    Although this film is a lot different from modern movies, I think it is a good film in a lot of ways. From this film, I am able to know how the films have developed since the silent era and how remarkable piece of work the silent film is. I think “Sunrise” is a representative film of the silent era in terms of having many good techniques.


  21. Sunrise: a Song of Two Humans (1927) is a great silent film. Through the film, it uses only sound of orchestra and uses no actor’s voice. The director, F.W. Murnau, expresses the sound effect of action with music instruments only.
    The actors and actresses overly act, this is important first process how the actors express the audiences what they feel, think, without voice. The film expresses characteristics of the characters in the film by using the tone of color. This is great technique because we can define the characters and their roles as well. The city girl, who has an affair with the man, has black hair and wears black dress that symbolizes bad moral.

    I personally suggest that the film is similar to the story of The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse, which is one of Aesop’s Fables. When the man and his wife visit the city, they were like the country mouse. This film reflects the time of the people.
    The film also symbolizes the values of human beings in that era, such as Good versus Bad, and Country versus City. Even though the man had an affair with the city girl, he could spend happy time with his wife because he has mended his behavior. I noticed that the man regret about having an affair with the city girl in the church. The director probably emphasizes that good can be lasted good, and bad would be lasted bad by using those techniques. The theme of the film is more about ethic and religion.


  22. This was almost my first time to watch silent movie (I’ve watched some short silent films before), and I enjoyed it. Also, it was very different from the modern movies, and I was impressed how people made the films in the past. This film showed that the way of making films has been changed and improved over the years.

    Even though it was a silent movie, I could understand the story and the actors’ emotions in each scene. The actors acted a bit different from the modern movie. They overacted than now to express their emotions with face and physical expressions. At the same time, the sounds effects helped a lot to show the each situation. In some scene, if we watch it without the background sounds, we might not understand the people’s feelings well. In addition, they use various more techniques such as the camera works.

    I could also see the life/culture and the role of farm’s family in the era. It was interesting to see the contrast between the city girl and the wife. Since they made a clear/big difference, we can easily see the personality of city girl and wife.

    I was a bit frustrating when people are talking but we cannot actually hear what they are saying. At the same time, I thought we can enjoy thinking about it. In modern movies, we just received all the information so they do not have any space for us to imagine the characters, situations and so on. However, in a silent, movie we can create our own image especially how they talk.


  23. Sunrise A song of Two Humans was probably the first soundless movie I have ever seen, and I must admit that I quite enjoyed it. The acting was melodramatic to compensate for the lack of dialogue, the music did not always perfectly match the scenes, and the few dialogues that did appear were written in letters on full screen – the style was so different from movies today where everything is so sophisticated and at times overly polished.

    There were some scenes in the movie that did not seem to tie into the plot. When the married couple end up at a carnival in the city, they encounter a few curious events, an example being chasing a pig that ended up getting tipsy off wine. Right after that, there is a scene where the two dance, and in the crowd there is a man who incessantly fixes a woman’s dress’ shoulder strap that just keeps falling off. These scenes perhaps add an essence of lightheartedness to the story, and also show that even little things that are usually overseen can bring joy when one (in this case two, being the married couple) is truly happy. Scenes like these are oftentime ommitted in movies today because it may cause confusion in some audiences.

    The part of this movie that stuck to my mind the most is where the two ride the train. When they first board, the wife is terrified of her husband for his attempt to murder, and her husband is torn apart for his vain mistake. On the train ride back, they stand at the exact same part of the train, but are fully rejuvinated after an exciting night out in the city. This juxtaposition is simple yet powerful, and adds to the shock of the tradgedy that is to follow.

    It is amazing how much drama can be packed into a film of an hour and a half, even without dialogue. It may be beneficial for modern movies to utilize these creative methods due to limited technology that these silent films exert.


  24. This was not my first foray into silent film. As a little kid my dad used to put on Chaplin films and I’d feel extremely successful when I understood what was happening even without being able to read the text slides. I loved the music and the extreme facial expressions and the physical comedy that usually went hand in hand with Charlie Chaplin and his dancing potato legs or funny little shuffle step. I have a lot of fond association with silent film for this reason, but realistically I saw most of that as something that hinged on my childhood mentality. Going into the viewing of Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, I had no trust in holding any particular interest in a silent film that wasn’t Charlie Chaplin stamped and didn’t have me watching it with like, a child’s easy-to-please eyes. I expected a movie a lot like what you see depicted in the film Singing In the Rain when Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont were still stars of the silent screen: something hammy and simple and ridiculous.

    And in a way that’s exactly what I got, yet the surprising part was how much I found myself enjoying it. The plot was simple and laughable really when you look into what message the movie was sending was sending from today’s viewpoint. It’s okay if your husband was cheating on you and trying to kill you as the most reasonable way of leaving you- if he changes! A strange love story to say the least, but if you let yourself enjoy the movie for what it was at the time, I find I’m left with very few complaints. The whole thing was surprisingly visually interesting for a film shot in 1929. The first time the text warped and dripped to visually depict the statement it was conveying, I laughed at the over-dramaticness of it but at the same time was pretty impressed. The same went for the scene where the (evil) city girl painted a picture of what life in the city was like with her words in hopes of convincing the main character to come with her. The movie threw up a bright image of the city above her wide gestures and wildly dancing body to show us exactly what she was conveying at the time. It’s a very effective method and one that seems before its time.

    The movie, while long, succeeded in holding my attention all the way throughout. I cared about the sweet loving innocent wife, as much of a cookie-cutter stereotype of moral goodness she might have been. She was just such a sweetie, I wanted her to be happy, which I think was exactly what the movie was going for. Forgiving her husband and having a whole day date in the city where they re-found their love for each other…it doesn’t seem like it should be that entertaining to watch but hey. It worked. Though adding a bit more drama wouldn’t have hurt anything either. The fact that they were in the very city that the mistress/evil city girl was trying to get him to runaway with her to just the night before made me expect that at some point the three would run into each other and we would have a real scene of triangle relationship drama. But the whole plot ended up resolving without the “bad” girl and the “good” girl facing each other even once. So really the only thing that made the city girl the villain was the suggestion that he kill his wife to leave her instead of just…leaving her. Which would have been a simple and less-of-a-felony of a solution to the problem. But then again, maybe people just didn’t divorce back then and drowning was the only way. But she never even mentioned his daughter. In fact the baby is pretty much a non-character. Like, what was her purpose other than being cute a few times. She never seemed to calculate in anyone’s plans. Anyway I’m just nitpicking and these things don’t truly bother me. Overall, I enjoyed Sunrise and understand why it won an Oscar. Maybe I’ll even try a few more silent films now: no more low expectations.


  25. Sunrise was a film about the struggles of remaining in a long term relationship. A man, no longer happy with his wife, starts dating a woman from the city. When the mistress asks the man to come back to the city with her, they plot to murder the wife. Although the leaps in logic seemed a bit ridiculous, more comical than dramatic, the story had a constant flow that kept me interested. However the story seemed to change after the husband was unable to kill his wife. The focus shifted from a murder plot to the couple mending their relationship, with no mention of the mistress. I thought the conflict had been resolved and the remainder of the movie would be dedicated to a slapstick romance. But at the end of their date the movie cuts to the city woman, reminding us she still plans to break the couple apart.

    The main problem I have with Sunrise is the lack of focus to the central conflict during the date. A few extra cuts back to the mistress would have helped. Occasionally the film would refer back to the issues the couple had in their relationship, such as the husband’s temptation to the manicurist, but the nods would always be to loyalty and communication. The main murder plot was dropped until the couple left the city.

    Despite my confusion with the date, Sunrise was a generally good film. It didn’t do anything new or complex, but the simple story was well handled and enjoyable.


  26. I thought this film was really interesting in its puritanical display of gender dynamics.

    I found it actually pretty easy to identify with the “femme fatale” character, and less so with the idealized wife character. I find the femme fatale character to be more human, showing her wants and desires. Granted, I think she was very intentionally cast in a negative light to highlight the sanctity of marriage and the damnation of temptation, but all-in-all I found her to be pretty sympathetic.

    The storyline where the man tries to kill the wife was interesting to me as well. It seemed as if he didn’t have a mind of his own and that he was fueled and hexed by the feminine wiles of the femme fatale character. I think this is pretty indicative of the times in American culture when we idealized feminine virtue and condemned any kind of female sexuality. It was kind of the not-so-secret dirty secret of American culture.

    The expressionism in the film was everywhere and I loved it. I really liked the dreamlike backdrops and the hyper-stylized settings. To me it was the director screaming about how passionate he was about his work, and I appreciated it very much. I like seeing the extra artistic effort put in by directors to make their films magical and really jump out.


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