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2016/Screening #1: Sunrise (1927) – 95 min.

sunrise-1927-poster

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/

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80 responses to “2016/Screening #1: Sunrise (1927) – 95 min.

  1. White Rabbit ⋅

    Sunrise has left me with great impressions of the silent film era thus far. Will the man pursue his love affair, or will he chose his wife? We already see the man’s hesitation to move forward with the murder. I’m a bit surprised by the early scene of the woman dressing down, as I am assuming this would have been controversial during this era. I was intrigued by the farmer’s slow movement when he hears the woman whistling outside. Not sure what that was about… I was impressed by the animation of the woman’s words about drowning the farmer’s wife. It seems advanced for its time. Murnau also distinguishes between both women, where the farmer’s face is well lit with innocence, while the other woman is dressed in black. Interestingly enough, the innocent woman lives in the country, while the promiscuous woman lives in the city. Murnau could certainly be commenting that the city life is full of debauchery, discouraging many farmers during that era from relocating to the city. I also found it comical to see what I believe was a plastic baby doll instead of a real baby. Maybe it was considered inappropriate to use a real baby for film purposes at that time…

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  2. IsThePartyOver ⋅

    I know of and like Karl Struss work in photography with the whole Pictorialism movement before and was pleasantly surprised to see Sunrise being the first screening of this class. Like the good old cinematographers of the day, Struss came up with his own special lens; wonder whether he used it for Sunrise? Doesn’t seem like it from what we watched so far. Nevertheless, in the same way that in his photography he strived for distorting reality in order to elevate the profession to a higher art form beyond a mere “copy” of what we see in the real world, I can see in Sunrise a similar effort. It popped out to me very clearly in the first few minutes of the film where the female protagonist is leaving the house and meet the old couple having breakfast at the table. The use of what I believe to be a very wide lens close to the couple in the foreground, made them look larger-than-life in comparison to the woman in the background, while also dwarfing the rest of the room. Due to the latter reason, the technique used in this shot instilled in me the impression of looking into a doll house somehow. Much more can be said about the cinematography in terms of escaping from reality, such as the use of film dissolves and juxtaposition of different shots to create a third reality (e.g. the shot in the wilderness at night when images of the city appear in front of them, a shared daydream projected in the air like a film (inside a film)).

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    • Eddie ⋅

      I also enjoyed the cinematography of the film after watching bits of it again I really enjoyed the long scenic views that remind me of some old farm lands I’ve traveled through. A bit inspirational as well for my own photography as well. I don’t know much about video but I liked the dreamy effects as well.

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  3. uruwa ⋅

    During this first part of the viewing, I was struck by the contrast between the wife and the woman from the city. They both seem young, about the same age, but are very different. The wife’s hair and clothes are light, and she has a very graceful, quiet demeanor. The woman from the city, however, wears all dark clothing, bold lipstick, and even sports an edgy, dark-colored hair cut. She is loud, bold, and demanding. She uses her influence over the farmer to bend him to her will, and has now suggested that he kill his wife. The first question that popped into my mind was what would happen to their child if he goes through with it. Will he just leave the kid? I’m sure his mistress won’t want him to bring the child with them if they elope to the city, as it would put a damper on their partying. I’m anxious to see if the husband goes through with the murder, but I hope he changes his mind, and send the woman from the city back where she came from, alone.
    I’m curious to see how the rest of the movie turns out, though I must say, overall it has caught my attention much more than other silent films I have viewed in the past.

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    • TRONtravolta ⋅

      I understand that you were stuck contrasting these two characters and the plan that would occur after the murder of the wife. I was also thinking that this young, open, and loose type of woman, would not want to play mommy in the big city. Especially since the city played the role as an evil place, compared to the innocent country side. I guess the idea of murder being spontaneous, the characters did not consider the big picture. I guess this random way of thinking made the movie more entertaining and faster pace. Having an edgy plot like this made me forget that I was watching a silent black and white film from the 1920’s.

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    • conan ⋅

      I like your analysis of the two women being portrayed differently. The city girl was portrayed so over-the-top and crazy and she even tried to convince the man to murder his wife and run away with her, while the wife was a complete contrast, portrayed as very innocent and submissive. She was almost the picture of childlike innocence. She easily forgave her husband after he tried to kill her and almost dies anyway when the boat gets caught in the storm. As for the man, he is hopeless. Even though he ended up not killing her wife in the end, the fact that he did plan it out and seriously consider it is truly frightening.

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    • dinerbears ⋅

      i really like the way sunrise 1927 show the different between the city girl and wife by their outside looks and their personality. Even this is silent movie but still give me the clear characterization. there are few scene make me confused at the first which is when city girl ask the husband killed his wife. the husband turing angry and have small conflict with city girl but after city girl kiss the husband calm down really fast and make he going to kill his wife. i feel his emotion change too fast that i cannot catch what he thought.

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  4. Sorabari ⋅

    I hardly watch silent films, so it’s good opportunity to take a look how those movies bring stories to the audiences. I realize that when the scene looks serious and dark atmosphere, the background music sounds deep, heavy, and slow. On the other hand, when the scene looks light and warm atmosphere, the background music sounds high, bouncy, and fast. Likewise, their atmosphere and emotion are expressed with the movement of the characters. When I saw the woman who tries to convince him after the husband denied her offer, she hugs and kisses him effusively. I assume that since there is no dialogue in a silent film, body language is one of the way to deliver how the characters in the movie want to do to the audience. The title is “Sunrise”. When I saw the title, I expected the movie was going through with warm atmosphere, but in the beginning of the movie, the woman wants the husband to kill his wife, sell his farm, and go to the town with her, which sounds like a dark movie. In general, I think that movie titles make people who see the titles imagine how the movie will look like. This can be one of the techniques to get attention from people. I’m not sure what’s going to happen at the end, so we’ll see on Friday.

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    • uruwa ⋅

      I, too, heard the title Sunrise and figured it would be more of a typical love story. So when the woman from the city was introduced and the plot thickened, I was fairly surprised. I also was interested in the way body language was portrayed. At first, I found it to be a bit distracting, but overall it aided the silent film in getting its messages and emotions across, though being used to modern films means it was a bit hard to get used to at first, but eventually seemed almost natural due to the lack of dialogue.

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  5. mkt18 ⋅

    I though that silent film is difficult to understand because of silent. however, this movie is really easy to understand supported with the sounds, some words, and movement. Especially, the sound of this film helps me to imagine the situation of the scene, the sound are used differently depend on the situation like while the man and woman are having affair, the sound is fast. However, when wife realized that husband has gone, the sound is slow and dark. the sounds helps to the film more clear. Also, I realized that body movement is really big and it helps the audience to understand about the story. When father hold and kisses his baby, he really moves widely and repeats his movement maybe there times. because it is silent, the movement is key point to tell the story, emotion, and situation. In addition, it is interesting that shots moves the man and woman to his wife many times at the scene that the man and woman prepare to kill the wife. these the man and woman and wife’s scenes might show the happening which occurs at the same time, and this function makes me feel uneasy. overall this film is interesting and fantastic. I’m looking forward to watch the next part of the film

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  6. pizzaboy ⋅

    I really enjoyed the first half of the film. I like how it shows a more simplified version of life from the past century. In a sense I can relate to it from my high school years. I really appreciate how the movie initially contrasts the hustle and bustle of the city with the warm and calming atmosphere of the bucolic scenery. For me, the woman of the city symbolically represents the nefarious nature of the city influence. I expect that the film elements will come to represent the feeling of paranoia experienced by many people during the numerous changes and challenged encountered during the Industrial Revolution…but this may just be a projected and hasty interpretation. It impresses me how engaging a film can be while consisting of primarily implied dialogue. It really makes you question what is really to be valued in life. Are the bright light and loud sounds of the city to be seen as the modern ideal, or is the serene simplicity of antebellum America where the heart shall return?

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  7. shmoo ⋅

    From the preview we saw in class, I can tell this film really just gets to the point. In the first five minutes we learn there is a woman from the city having an affair with one of the local married men. Right after we learn of the devious plot the two of them conjure up. I imagine the rest of the film will be the trial and error of said plot. For a film from 1927, there are many advanced film techniques used. There is a mirroring of images, during the train montage to suggest traveling far distances and quickly. Then, there are the visual effects used on screen cards, which convey the feeling of the words. Such as when the woman from the city suggests to the farmer that he kill his wife, the words ooze like blood. There is also the layering of images, to illustrate the daydreams of the couple, finally able to live a luxurious life in the city. The music in the background is also very telling of the story, despite the fact that the woman from the city is already dressed like a villian, there is a creepy soundtrack that follows. I already hate both of these characters so I’m sure this film will be frustrating to watch.

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  8. Derp ⋅

    In a film class that I’ve taken before, I’ve see some silent movies. Since they were comedy-based, I couldn’t appreciate the message or the use of music so much. But this film “Sunrise” was the first dark-themed silent film that I’ve seen. I was amazed by its very effective use of music. I expected that it would be tideous to watch non-comedy silent film, but this used the music and silence so effectively that it actually gave me thrill, sadness and other emotion.
    In terms of message, it was quite noir-like. Unlike Chaplin, the first 15 minutes of this film depicted a woman that make a man fall and the man who (is about to?) fall. Not only the music but the use of contrast contributed to this tone of the story. Though it’s black-and-white and or course there is no color in this film, the film established an innocent character (the family of the man) with bright white appearence and a corrupt character (the woman in black) with dark black color along with heavy make-up.
    It is pretty interesting that they were able to do this much to tell the story without spoken dialogue. I am interested to watch the rest of it.

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  9. Vera Lynn ⋅

    Sunrise was one of the better silent films I have seen. I didn’t find the plot hard to follow in the least. Very rarely did I feel that the acting was too over the top, at least for a silent movie, where it is often required. I don’t think it ever broke my suspension of disbelief.
    What did break it for me were a few of the events in the film. One such occasion was when the woman just up and forgives him for thinking about murdering her. That part was just crazy to me. Another thing that bothered me was the coincidental things “saving the day.” Coincidence should only ever get a character into trouble, not out of it. Some examples of this are when the train just happens by and they jump on, and again when they just happen to find the main characters wife, and he stops choking the mistress.
    To that point. I also thought that if he had actually killed the mistress in a fit of passion, it would have made for a much more interesting story. Which isn’t to say that I don’t like the story that is already in this film. It is a nice tale of a man who rediscovers the love for his wife after straying so far away, but I think the ending would have been a lot more interesting if he had rediscovered that love only to have to deal with the ramifications of murdering someone in the process.
    I thought the visuals in this movie were stunning. As we talked about in class, they used some pretty advanced techniques for its time. It also did a great job of showing things and not telling. I feel like this is a lost art in a lot of movies these days. An example of this is when the main character pulls the reeds out from under the covers during the storm. I feel like in a modern movie this would have come with a hacky line like “Wait! The reeds!” to remind the audience the reeds are there, but by not saying anything the audience is forced to recall that earlier part of the story, and overall, I think it works better. A bad example of how modern films deal with this is in the Suicide Squad trailer when Harley Quinn breaks the glass and steals something and “Holder” says something like “What is wrong with you people” and Harley replies “We’re bad guys, it’s what we do.” That line just feel like a lazy attempt to throw in a joke when it could have been much better done with some good visual acting.

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    • White Rabbit ⋅

      That’s an interesting proposal for a twist Vera. I was hoping he wouldn’t kill her, for the sake of a happy ending, but it certainly would have provoked us as an audience, and give us an unexpected twist.

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    • theSiren_Song ⋅

      I agree with you on the ramifications of murdering someone. How would the village react? Sure they may be understanding since the mistress led him away from his wife and it was her meddling in their marriage that caused the wife to almost die. In a quiet country town like this one, I would think they don’t really deal with murder like the city does. Would they ostracize him from the community? Would they pity him and keep him apart of the community?
      How would the wife react? Would she still want to stay with him, even with the blood on his hands? Would she leave him for killing someone? Would the murder change their relationship?
      What about him himself? How would he live with the knowledge he took another human’s life?

      I feel like these are all interesting twists the movie could have taken should he have killed the mistress. I actually expected him to kill her and then as she took her final breath, the village people would arrive and tell him his wife is alive. Missed opportunity!

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  10. Frank Bullitt ⋅

    Sunrise (1927) directed by F.W. Murnau has an interesting use of camera work and visual story telling for the era that the film was created. During the era of American silent film, the majority of filmmakers had the cameras locked down in one spot due to the sheer size of the equipment, however in the film Sunrise (1927), Marnau is not afraid to move the camera with the action. A great example of this action is when the audience is introduced to the carnival taking place in the city, the camera is moving through the crowed making its way through the entrance. Even though in this scene the dolly tracks can be seen, the movement of the camera makes the visuals flow and not feel stagnant. Another technical aspect that Murnau employs in Sunrise (1927) is the consistent framing of the characters. In general, when there is a two shot where there is no physical contact between the characters, Murnau frames the actors with space between as they are directly facing each other. Keeping with the rule of thirds, one character would be on the left, then empty space in the center, and the other character on the right. During a two shot when there is physical contact between the characters, for the most part the rule of thirds is upheld and both characters are off to one side of the frame. But when there is only a one shot, the rule of thirds is ignored completely and the actor is framed in center. This is because Murnau only uses one shots when a specific emotion is being conveyed to the audience that is critical to the story therefore focusing the audience on the single actor.

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  11. White Rabbit ⋅

    After watching the entire movie, I contemplate the various themes and wonder: what is this movie telling us? As I previously mentioned, Murnau certainly comments on the differences between the city life and the country life. However, I believe this movie is about forgiveness and repentance. We see a transformation in the husband; from darkness to light, from crazy to happy. I would argue that the driving force behind this change is God. Considering the era of the film, Murnau may certainly be telling us that it’s impossible to love unconditionally, but through the power of God’s love, this is possible. For instance, when the farmer was leaning towards his wife in the boat, ready to end her life, what prompted him to stop? Didn’t his wife put her hands together, as though she was praying for a miracle? And at the wedding ceremony, what words prompted the husband to repent? Was it not: “God is giving you, in the holy bonds of matrimony, a trust. She is young… and inexperienced. Guide her and love her… keep and protect her from all harm.” At these words, the husband recalls the vow he made.

    On a separate note, it was interesting to see how the husband and wife each had their own beds. Not sure if that was common during this era.

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  12. IsThePartyOver ⋅

    Afterthoughts:

    Silent films can be incredibly difficult to appreciate and not fall asleep to if I am to be honest, but I saw in Sunrise a certain charm in its theatrical performances, engaging soundtrack (which surprisingly included sound effects) and above all, in the way that it reminds me of simpler times for filmmaking. It’s a feeling I get from a lot of old films, they feel so innocent and sincere, without so much of a pretentiousness. Sunrise can also be praised for its technical prowess with the use of what we would call today as dissolves and chroma key, as well as plenty of moving shots.

    On top of all of that, Sunrise can be said to be a mirror of the American society of the past and even of today to a certain extent. We see the contrast of social classes and the prejudices that accompany them as well as the prevalence of classic gender roles. The latter is most obvious in the wedding scene in the city, where the priest talk of women as defenseless beings to be protected by men. Although it drags here and there with prolonged actions/reactions, there is enjoyment to be found in Sunrise undoubtedly. Now am I eager to watch more silent films after Sunrise? Not necessarily, but ultimately it did break a few of preconceptions I had against them.

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  13. clintrump ⋅

    Sunrise is an interesting silent film that gives me the sense that I am transported back in time to 1927. The film follows A man, and his wife that live in a rural farming town, and another woman from the city attempts to break up their marriage in suggesting that he drown his wife and move to the city. Even though there is no language use in the film the body language, and mood music used in different scenes give the silent film great depth of emotion, and feeling without the use of language. The scene where the husband is paddling the boat in a furious manner as he has a mental image of drowning his wife in the immediate future along with ominous music give the scene a sense of impending danger. I would have to say that the film uses a lot of opposites of rural farm life to busy city life, and crazy mistress to loving wife to give a sense of what is good and bad. I think the director of the film was trying to give a subtle message that the purity of the rural life, and his loving wife was what the husband needed from life rather than living an unclean life in the city with a mistress that may not have the best intentions. I also think the director played on a sense of irony that his wife’s life was almost taken through drowning when she fell off the boat due to the storm on their way back to the rural farm town.

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  14. conan ⋅

    I had never seen silent films until I saw this movie and my impression of silent films were old and boring to be honest. However, this film did change my impression. I found myself became interested in watching as the film comes to an end. I liked the sense of humor and the sound technique. I found that when the scene was serious, the background sound was loud and scary. I also found that the gesture was more exaggerated than the one in the regular films with the sound. Since there is no spoken dialogue, I think it is easier to understand the feeling of each character.
    I feel like the silence made this movie more interesting. I could empathize with the wife more easily imagining the feeling of her. The film would have been boring if it had the sound. Also it was impressive that how they depicted the contrast between rural country life and urban city life. I thought that they made the story more clear by giving the audience the idea that the country woman is innocent/trustworthy and the city woman is nasty/selfish. In addition, I liked how they correlated the title and the character. I realized that the wife represents the sunrise/brightness whereas the city woman represents sunset/darkness. After I realized that, the title did make sense to me. All in all I enjoyed this film and am excited to watch another one.

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  15. youngbillionaire ⋅

    I’ve taken a film class before, so I have seen silent films, so I had an idea how a silent film is before watching the film. Because I’ve seen a couple silent films I can say Sunrise is one of the better silent films that I have watched, and I personally liked it. That is because the film was easy to follow and had great sound effects make it easier to get in to the film. I also liked how the professor cut though some long scene as silent films can get a little long-boring because they have to explain everything with there action and sounds. The reason I appreciate this silent film is because before I have seen some silent films that were very complicated and experimental (a page of madness (1926)), so seeing something straightforward is nice. I’ve also realized both films were made I around the same time. Another silent film that came to my mind when I saw the sunrise was The Cheat (1915 film). Though what I liked about sunrise better that sunrise gives a better idea of how life was back then along with a story. Just from Watching Sunrise I learned how the city was at the time, what kind of cars people rode, how having trains was normal and taking pictures was a thing. Overall the film was interesting and thought me a few things, and I look forward to seeing some more films in the class.

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  16. liarinaa ⋅

    To be honest, Sunrise totally break the image I used to have for silent film, which is very interesting and surprising. Before watching this movie, silent film is always seen to be boring to me; however, Sunrise makes another impression and face of silent film.
    One thing I like about Sunrise is although it is called “silent” movie, the film still used a lot of sound effect to make the whole movie to be lively and it draws attention and arouse emotion among the audiences while the movie goes on, which make the audiences can really feel themselves in the movie, and in my opinion, it only can be done without any spoken language in the movie.
    In addition, I also like the way the director tells the story. The director dose the really good work on the scenes of countryside and the city look which can really tell the difference in the scenes of the couple living in the countryside or while they are experiencing the fancy city life. Moreover, the portray of two women can make the audience to tell good and evil easily, but not in the corny way since the wife is not just like the typical country girl who is innocent all the time and eventually feel something wrong with her husband. Therefore, I will say that it was a good experience for me to watch Sunrise in the class and I’m looking forward to watch other movies.

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    • Sorabari ⋅

      I agree with you. Since silent film goes through silently, people who don’t know English can understand what the movie is about. It could be off-topic, but I heard that people who have disability of one of five senses, the rest of four senses get polished and enhanced so that the people can cover the lack of the dysfunctional sense with other four senses. According to what I heard, the audience of silent films are forced to lose verbal communication in the film; therefore, the audience try to focus on the back ground music, body language, or any information unconsciously in order to cover up the silent.

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      • liarina ⋅

        that is an interesting point to relate the audience of silent film and the people who has hearing disability. I think now it can be explained why people can actually to be more focus on the content while watching silent movies. because the situation is so similar and that could be the reason that the viewers’ visions are sharped so that we can fully experience the film. Thanks for sharing this!

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    • dinerbears ⋅

      I agree with you that director do the good work give us the audience scenes the different between city and countryside look. The fancy street and how the people dress in city is different than the countryside the way wife and husband the way they dress up is simple and the street looks more simple. I also think director shows very clear the different between city girl and countryside girl. the women husband cheat at. Her personality and the way dress up not make me feel aggressive and not that simplicity as wife.

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      • liarina ⋅

        but there just one thing i feel so weird and i still remember it clearly that the city girl was hanging on the tree and looking at everyone when other people were trying to find the missing wife haha. i personally really adore the scene while the couple were in the city. when you see two people from the countryside and dress so simple compared to those city people and quick pace of city life. I just like it so much because you can see them trying to discover and explore the city but somehow you can also see the differences from them and wonder if they will just stay as what they are or they will eventually be compelled by the sparkling city life.

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  17. KillDozer ⋅

    Sunrise isn’t the first silent film I’ve ever seen but I do think it’s perhaps one of the best executed, the fact that it’s silent didn’t impede it’s ability to convey it’s plot, which is admittedly pretty simple, it’s two people rediscovering their love for each other, or at least that’s the case for the husband. The actors and actresses do a great job of expressing their emotions through rather exaggerated facial expressions and body movements and in addition to that the score does an amazing job at setting the tone for each scene, so much so that dialog cards almost aren’t even necessary.
    The most interesting character in the film is definitely the husband, he’s the only one with any kind of character arch, with the wife and city woman basically representing the good and bad influences in his life. We get to see him make poor decisions for the city woman, who represents the excess and debauchery of the city, something that’s very tempting to him as shown in the scene where she is convincing him to sell his farm and kill his wife, complete with a ridiculous dance she does that’s very reminiscent of an inflatable tube man in front of a car lot. We see that the husband is conflicted but never the less is willing to go through with the plan by attempting to drown his wife, and it’s here that we see him at his lowest point.
    After the husband attempts to murder his wife and the two end up in the city seemingly by accident, a series of events convinces the husband to see the error of his ways, realize how much he loves his wife, and reaffirm his commitment to her. In the course of a few hours, being the beacon of goodness that she is, the wife forgives him for trying to murder her. In the finale, the husband has done a complete 180, attempting to save his wife followed quickly by violently assaulting and strangling the city woman, his second attempted murder of the film, only this time it’s someone the audience wouldn’t mind seeing get killed.
    Complementary to the well executed story and great score is some downright awesome camera work. Most silent films I’ve seen have the tendency to be shot in very wide, flat, static angles but Sunrise features some really beautiful shots, combining a wide variety of angles, pans, dolly shots, and even a really good looking crane shot. It’s definitely more than I was expecting going into this film.
    On the whole, while I did find certain details to be unintentionally comical and the characters, aside from the husband, to be really one dimensional, this is still a very watchable film ninety years after it’s creation and it’s one I wouldn’t mind seeing again.

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    • TaiwanSwag ⋅

      Although I have never seen any silent movies before Sunrise, I could still imagine that it is the best executed ones because it blew my expectations for these kind of films. And I also agree with you on the fact that the exaggerated actions and facial expressions actions actually helped progress the story to a point that the dialogue cards/scenes aren’t necessary.

      However, I actually think the most interesting character in the story is the wife. Sure, the husband went through all the inner battles with himself and was going through all the temptations and thoughts before realizing his love for his wife. But this makes the wife even more interesting because she has no clue what happened to his husband. She was on an emotional roller coaster ride through all these times. She was excited when her husband wanted to have a trip on a boat with her, but then to find out that he was going to kill her in the middle of the water, but he didn’t. Then they went through all these chasing and confessions to find out that they still love each other before a storm came to interrupt their ending to a lovely trip.

      Overall, with all the techniques and the story line ninety years back, I agree it is still a very watchable and enjoyable movie till this day.

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      • dinerbears ⋅

        i agree with you that wife;s reaction is more interesting than the husband because husband is kind of straggle with himself for should kill his wife or not. I think in the movie sunrise all the characters have their individual personality but compare with other character wife’s reaction and personality is most interesting. overall, i really like this film to show how the husband cheating on his wife, want to kill her wife at last find out they still love each other and don’t want his wife died. I feel this film is template for now the day’s romantic movie.

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  18. Sierra94 ⋅

    I have seen numerous silent films before, mainly Charlie Chaplin films, a few other films I had seen in previous film courses, and on one occasion, a Soviet documentary (or at least that is what I think it is) named “Man with a Movie Camera”, so this is not a new experience for me. That said, maybe it was because I underestimated the level of technology and techniques that filmmakers in the 1920’s had at their disposal, but Sunrise had surprised me at a number of points. One of the first such points was how the camera appeared to be fixed onto the small rowboat, considering how big and heavy typical movie cameras at the time must have been. Another scene that surprised me was the scene in which the couple had left the church. While it is admirable that the studio tried to innovate with a technique that we have replaced with green screens, it was funny to see the obvious artefacts of the process around the two characters, namely around their heads. It also felt like an unnecessarily time-consuming process for a scene in which they could have simply cut between two separate shots in the city and the field.
    Overall, Sunrise was a good film and a decent start to a film course.

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    • youngbillionaire ⋅

      I’ve also seen couple of silent films from other classed before this class, so it was not a new experience for me too. Though I didn’t have knowledge about the technology and techniques so I leaned a few things about their technology and techniques of filming from reading this post, so thank you. From next time when I watch a silent film, I’ll try to pay attention the films technology and techniques a bit more.

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  19. Nox ⋅

    Sunrise was a pleasant surprise to start off our semester. I didn’t expect much going into the film but oddly enough it carried itself very well despite the amount of time that has passed since it’s initial release. For a silent film it was quite easy to pay attention, largely in part due to the plot. I didn’t expect to see a silent film about infidelity any time soon, so this was a new experience. The characters were grating at times what with overreacting so largely, but I attribute that to the fact it was a different time so I don’t think it’s fair to count that against the film. The beginning of Sunrise really captured my attention, seeing the woman from the city lure the man from the arms of his wife and his baby was scandalous, maybe more so than today if you think about how immoral this was considered to be in 1927. The Man was a very annoying character in my honest opinion; he treated his wife horribly and tried to drown her, only to turn on the woman from the city. He was just as guilty as her, he didn’t have to leave his wife or try to drown her, but he still went through with it. As the film progressed my animosity towards him grew larger simply because of his childish behavior and selfishness. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes when they went into the church to view the wedding, they couldn’t have been married for more than 4 or 5 years, but he has to have an epiphany and break down at someone’s wedding because he decided to cheat on his wife and murder her because some random woman that resembled a flapper girl told him to do so. It would’ve been highly ironic had the wife died, but in the end I was happy to see she made it out of her husband and the woman from the city’s foolishness alive. After seeing this film I would definitely be interested in watching more silent films, they can be very entertaining even by today’s standards.

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    • clintrump ⋅

      Nox, I honestly didn’t view this film from a female perspective until I read your post. I agree that the husband was very selfish in his actions, and it does seem a little strange how the flapper lady was framed more as a villain, and the husband was somehow magically forgiven for his behavior in the church scene. I think since the movie takes place in 1920’s the silent film catered to more of a male dominated society being that a man could be forgiven in the situation and a woman would not be forgiven. Another aspect to consider is the fact that the husband attempted to murder the flapper through strangling her before the end of the film, and yet nothing came of the situation of attempted murder. Under the modern day social standards for women’s rights I don’t think that this silent movie would have been shot in the exact same story line.

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    • Sorabari ⋅

      I assume that the woman in black has so much power to make any man fall in love with her. The power can be carried from the urban city. People who live in the local area have the will to stay in urban area, and the woman is obviously the represent of the town because of what she wears and how she behaves. She wears gorgeous cloth because she doesn’t have to be worried about getting dirty by firming. She behaves as if she can handle everything she faces to. The outlook already makes men in the local area tempted; therefore, they think that if they follow her, they could spend gorgeous life in the urban area like she does. Back to 1927, I assume that, in real life, women weren’t treated equally as much as men, so the movie can be offending the society indirectly by using the woman in black.

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  20. Frank Bullitt ⋅

    Other interesting techniques that are used by F.W. Murnau in the film Sunrise (1927) are lighting and the use of dissolves. The lighting is a key aspect in portraying emotion in a film. Throughout the film Sunrise (1927) there is a shift from evil to good as the husband finds that he has made a mistake with the city girl. In the beginning of the film, the audience can see that the husband is being unfaithful to his wife with the girl from the city. This emotion of disgrace is mirrored in the way that the husband is lit. Whilst with the city woman, they are both lit very poorly and always in the dark or in the shadows. Moving foreword, when the husband is preparing to kill his wife, he is still being poorly lit, but once he determines that he made a mistake and wants to be with his wife, the lighting is much better and he no longer has shadows on his face signaling emotional reprise. When it comes to the lighting of the wife, she is considered pure and therefore is always lit very bright, even when they are outside at night. On the contrary, the woman from the city is always poorly lit and never shown in the daylight, which exudes a sense of evil. The frequency and use of dissolves in Sunrise (1927) also plays a significant role in the emotions that Murnau is trying to convey to the audience. Often when the dissolve is being used it is to give further emotional information to the audience such as what the character is thinking or feeling at a particular moment. Since this is a silent film and the audience can not hear the tone of the actors voice, there needs to be some other form of emotional reinforcement which is cleverly what the use of dissolves does for this film.

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    • Sorabari ⋅

      In the film, the urban city represents the shiny and trendy place where people will to live, so does the woman in black. Trying to kill his wife seems that the husband tries to abandon what he holds in the local city to spend the new life in the urban area. Therefore, the scene the husband and the wife on the lake looks like he goes through the ritual and she is the sacrifice.
      I also wonder why the color of black represents evil, while the color of white represents goodness. The reason can be that back then, films show by monotone color; black and white, so they use the color to distinguish the contrast category. What if there’s the 3rd person gets involved in the color? The color of grey probably would be given to the person.

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  21. Sorabari ⋅

    The dog represents the warning of danger. When the husband tries to kill his wife on the boat, the dog unchains and bark at them. Animals are considered that they recognize danger with their instincts, so the dog realizes the husband’s thought.

    When he is about to kill her on the boat, a wind instrument sounds and goes gradually louder and louder. This can create fear to the audience. This method reminds me of the shark horror movie “Jaws.” As a shark gets to a victim, the deep sound goes louder like this movie.

    When they get into the church, there is a wedding ceremony is held. They see the new couple that just got married and the husband starts crying. At the moment, the priest says to the new couple that they must love each other no matter what situation they are in. The husband gets reminded of who the truly precious person is, not the woman but his wife.

    When they are in the train after reconciled, they are smiling and chatting with each other. On the other hand, when she runs away from him, they don’t speak at all. Therefore, the audience can see the contrast of their mood before and after getting to the city.

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  22. pizzaboy ⋅

    I was legitimately surprised by the amount of an emotional reaction a silent film was able to inspire in me. I found myself on the figurative edge of my seat until the end of the film. Even though my higher faculties gambled that the film was likely to have the more fortuitous of possible endings (especially owing to the title of the film). It was thoroughly enjoyable to watch a film that was able to effectively send me back to a time period I was never able to experience first hand due to the natural chronology of time. It was interesting to see how comparatively barren a major city was back then compared to the sprawling metropolis that is Tokyo. It was comparative to the less developed areas of Saitama. The film effectively showcased the perpetual divide between different classes of people that still exists to this day. I really enjoyed the camera play during that occurred during the extended kissing scene. It made me wonder if maybe it was an intentional technique used to conjure a surreal, ethereal feeling in the audience. I am looking forward to viewing more films of this type.

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    • Sorabari ⋅

      I like how the both urban and local areas are represented in the film. I have experience living in both sides of cities and figured out that those have merit and demerit. In local area, there’s nature around people, so we can feel relax, but people don’t interact each other; therefore, the trend doesn’t go through the town smoothly. In urban area, people are busy, which means that the flow of everything goes so fast that we can experience new things constantly, but people look careless against others. In the movie, the husband would like to have life in the urban area by the temptation of the woman in black.
      I also found out that the way the actors and actress act too much. I assumed that since the film can’t send the voice of them, they express their emotions with their body language, and it resembles with animal. When animals express their thoughts or emotions, they use their body. Therefore, the body language can be the easiest way to represent what characters in the film think or feel about.

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  23. Armitage ⋅

    Silent films that people tend to talk about today usually are classical masterpieces (battleship Potemkin, to the moon and back, or metropolis). But in reality Hollywood back then was like it is today, mostly average with a few standout greats. Sunrise in my opinion is one of these more average films. while the themes of city vs rural life remain relevant today, some of the more minor details stand out as dated. Most blatant of these is the highly dramatic over-the-top acting style, popular at the time. Also the film assumes the audience understands the relationships between the husband and wife without actually developing it (though, in class we skipped a large chunk of act 2). Despite these minor flaws the film does succeed in overcoming some technological limitations of the time. Using the soundtrack in place of dialogue, and the editing during the traffic jam scene, both succeed. One thing i was most unpressed about was the lake scenes. The editing made it seem that they took the boat strait off the pier into the lake. Additionally when they are searching for the wife, (usually they may use an indoor swimming pool for this kind of thing) there were several boats on camera at once. we may not think about much today, but the camera has to be somewhere to film what needs to be filmed.

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  24. clintrump ⋅

    After reading all of my class notes, writing my initial blog post and reading other classmates response to Sunrise my overall perspective has changed a little. I think for the time the film was shot the technology was top notch even though for today’s standard’s it is laughable at best. It is pretty amazing to think of how some of the shots in particular the boat scene how they were shot with what at the time must have been heavy duty bulky equipment. I also think that the movie was a little socially awkward in today’s context when it comes to the idea of marriage, and the demonization of the flapper lady attempting to break up their marriage despite the husband’s bad behavior. I think for the time that the film was shot more power was given to men in society, and so we don’t do not get any idea that the husband was guilty of any wrong doing in the story. The director wanted to place the idea of marriage, and religion as the highest priority ignoring all of the wrong doings of the husband.

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  25. theSiren_Song ⋅

    Talk about a tale as old as time. Its 2016 and we’re still making movies about adultery, cheating, losing sight of your relationships and learning to re-kindle the love of your significant other.
    So it felt rather easy to connect to the movie, seeing how its a theme still constantly being used today by Hollywood. I’ve never seen silent films before, i always assumed they’d be boring and I was wrong. It was so easy to watch this and follow what was happening. And the theme was relate-able to today’s society.

    I have to say the guy had pretty good control of his facial expressions. You could see – without spoken words – how conflicted he was in his decisions, how happy he was when he rekindled his love for his wife, how distraught he was at almost losing her the way he was supposed to murder her, and how ecstatic he was to have her back. The story of his character was told on his face, not through words, and that was powerful. I had the strongest reactions to him and the way he distorted his features to look tormented and lost.

    It was also interesting to see how – before editing software – how they created transitions and split screens. However, aside from the fact its in black and white, its easy to tell its a dated film from the way the characters moved unnaturally – almost as if they were being fast forwarded just a tad. Its not enough to make it seem like their super rushing, but enough to make everything seem just a bit unnatural.

    all in all, i enjoyed the film.

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  26. Nyphos ⋅

    Sunrise was overall an enjoyable film. While I enjoy watching black and white films, I usually find silent films to be too slow for me, almost painfully so. Through Sunrise, I found compromise. The soundtrack was well written and gave the characters a voice to keep me invested in the story. I especially enjoyed the use of sound effects in the soundtrack, the most obvious of which being the brass horn used to symbolize one character calling for another. I think I would enjoy watching more silent films if they have such a soundtrack accompanying them.

    As a fan of editing and film asthetics, I feel Sunrise was a beautiful film that was ahead of its time. The use of dissolves is one that is seen in many early films, however the camera movement is unusual for the time period. The frequent pans and tilts, especially with the use of a crane, give the film a much later feel than that of 1927. The cameras frequent habit of following the characters around is also rather impressive. I can`t recall seeing any tracks, which leads me to wonder exactly how they manuvuered such a large camera around.

    The sets were also beautiful. There is strong German expressionism that runs throughout the scenes, where the sets are steeply angled to give an exaggerated feeling of depth. The clearest example of this is during a wide shot of the carnival/faire that the two main characters visit while they are in the city.

    While I feel that the story itself was dragged out a little too long for me personally (I don`t feel like I missed anything in the slightest when we had to skip a portion.), I feel the aesthics, camerawork, and editing make up for it.

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    • conan ⋅

      I agree with your opinion about silent films. Older movies usually have the problem of being too slow for me as well. 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 an old and silent film really left me a big apprehensive about watching it. Despite this Sunrise’s music and the story was really able to draw me in. Also the story of a classic love triangle is timeless so that helped make it enjoyable as well.

      Like

  27. mkt18 ⋅

    watching though a whole movie, this film is fantastic. the story is simple, suspense and love but contents are really dramatic. it is interesting in this film that grass works differently in film. the beginning of the film, the grass should work for saving the man after killing his wife, however the end of film, the same grass works to help his wife instead of saving himself. It is dramatic that he chose to wife’s life rather than his life even though he try to kill her at the same day. the camera work helps to make me uneasy while watching the film. When the man distresses to kill his wife on his bed at night, the woman’s shot surrounds him many times as if she is really touches him. This scene is scary and very full of suspense. City side and countryside is well expressed differently. The scene of countryside, only three characters appear, the man, wife, and the old woman. However, in city, there are many people. Also, the countryside is little darker comparing with city side. in addition, clothes are also different depend on side. woman wear more gorgeous clothes, make-up, etc. Not only the suspense, but also there is some humoristic scene for me. When wife is, he bought flower, and bread! It is unimaginable that he bought bread even though he tied to kill her. I am pleased by this film.

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    • Sorabari ⋅

      I assume that the reason why the country side is darker than the city side can be the number of the lights located in both cities. In my opinion, the darker scene represents depressed atmosphere. The scene where the husband gives gift such as flower and bread makes me think that he doesn’t know how to deal with her crying like a father doesn’t know how to make a child calm down when it cries. It also represents that the power balance between him and her switches, which means that she dominates him for the moment. This can be difficult to make people living in the era satisfied because, back then, men have more power than women do; therefore, they might have not felt comfortable when they watched the scene.

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  28. dinerbears ⋅

    Sunrise was my first silent movie I ever seen. The first expression heard that we are going to watched silent movie I was thought that would be boring. However, the movie is quiet interesting and make me feel unexpectable. Even thought this is the silent movie the background music always took me into the story and I have understood the emotion that charters had at the moment by the background music. In the movie Sunrise it is easy can see the different between people live in the countryside and the city. There are two part made me feel unintelligible when I watched the film. First one was after women forgive her husband the kissing in the middle of role and blocking the traffic. Second part was they run into stranger’s wedding and walk out from the church main entrance all the sudden people stand in outside was waiting for new couple who just got married they did not felt awkward when they walk out from the church. Silent movie’s actors need to good to express their emotion and feeling so they can catch audience attention. I think in the Sunrise all the actors are good at express their emotion also from their action. So I can see really clear when they felt straggle, sad and scared.etc… I am enjoyed to watched Sunrise in in this class this made me felt silent film also can be interesting as the sounds film.

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  29. Peach ⋅

    Films from the silent era always interested me in some way, but I never actually took the time to view one of them on my own. I would either have to be forced to watch them in class or watch snippets of them from other films. Only when I entered university did silent films actually become a part of my movie nights. The first silent film I watched was “Nosferatu” and I thought it was brilliant. Second was in one of my classes, “The Passion of Joan of Arc”. Third was “Metropolis”, and now I come to “Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans”. This may sound cliché but I can honestly say this has been my most favorite silent film so far. The story itself appeals to a wide range of audiences, with its fair share of comedy, (every time The Man started to choke The Woman From the City I couldn’t take it seriously and internally laughed. A lot.), melodrama, sap, and suspense.
    Out of all the outstanding characters portrayed in this film, the obvious star of this film was the cinematography. The director of the film, Murnau, was possibly one of the first directors to use camera motion while filming. Considering the now-ancient cameras that were available to him at the time, it is quite impressive to see how they dealt with these shots without motorized cameras. Not to mention shooting in all the difficult settings they did, such as the swamp scene with all the fog and the freaking MOON. How they managed to recreate a visually impressive shot with the tools available to them at the time I will never know. Well, I could look it up but where’s the fun in that. Aside from the great cinematography, the story itself is one of, in my opinion, hope. Hope in love or faith in love is more like it. It’s quite beautiful to see a film showing how love can prevail through most everything, and although it is a sort of fantasy that reality tends to crush at times, these sort of films will continue to keep romantic dreams alive for many to come.

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  30. TaiwanSwag ⋅

    I have never seen any silent films prior to this screening, and I always had an impression that silent movies are boring and difficult to follow along the storyline. After watching Sunrise directed by German director F.W. Murnau, none of my expectations matched the result. The movie displays engaging sound (both background and surprisingly some sound effects) and good acting (exaggerated action). Although not having the technology compare to what we have now, Sunrise still manage to include some moving shots despite shooting in gigantic cameras during the time. Overall Sunrise had ignited my interest to watch more silent movies in the future to see whether this film was the only exception.
    After watching Sunrise, I really like the way the director uses the nature to build up more tension to the story. The dog somehow knows that the rural girl is in danger and trying to chase her down, and the birds went flying when they were almost at the center of the water, indicating something dangerous is about to happen. Although there are some scenes that are confusing at times, especially when the couple ran into a random wedding and started crying, the movie Sunrise is nonetheless a very enjoyable movie despite having no spoken dialogue and modern technology.

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    • uruwa ⋅

      I found that this movie made me curious about other silent films, as well. Most of the ones I have seen I haven’t finished, because I’ve found them uninteresting and boring. However, this one changed my view on silent films altogether.
      I also thought the actions of the animals was an interesting touch. The dog, first, and then the birds. It’s always been said that animals can sense danger before humans, so it was definitely a sign that something was going to happen. It seemed, too, that the wife thought both these happenings were odd, but she brushed them off. Should have paid more attention! But I guess, in the end, it all turned out OK, anyway.

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    • dinerbears ⋅

      I agree with you that Sunrise change my mind for the silent film. I also have some stay real type that silent film must be boring and difficult follow along the storyline. However, Sunrise is changing my mind because the background music is give me the hint that the storyline made me easier understand the charters mood clearly. I also think the dog scene is really good to symbol the dangerous. Those random scenes like what you mention on the top even non sense for a lot of people but I think those scenes caught people attention and made whole story more interesting.

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  31. Derp ⋅

    I had an expectation that this film would be somewhat noir-like story, which could end up pessimistically. I thought that it will depict the fall of man through one woman. I actually had a positive feeling about this pessimistic feeling, since I had hope that the old films do not forcibly make everything end happily like modern mainstream Hollywood film. However, after seeing the story development after the protagonist man tried to throw his wife out of the boat, I felt a little dissapointed. The way they fixed the impaired relationship between him and his wife was a bit unnatural, and there were some laughable things that they did, as some classmates pointed out. The treatment of the woman in black and the impact she had on the story in the beginning seemed to be neglected in the last half of the film. I almost felt like the genre of the film is divided: first half is suspense and the other half is cheesy love story. Though there may be a few films that succeeded to change its genre within the film without imparing the story, I felt that it usually fails to connect the story. And this film seemed to be one of the bad example of it.
    It was after I saw the film that I saw the poster of this film. It clearly showed the man and his wife having an ardent kiss, and it seemed clear that this would be a positive love story.
    It’s not that I like to see everything getting messed up and depressing. But I wanted to see how old films were not as mundane like modern mainstream films.

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  32. jonsnow ⋅

    I really enjoyed the silent film mostly because of the soundtrack. I found it incredible that they were able to produce a fairly simple storyline but make it engaging because of the soundtrack driving the plot forward. It was also cool to see how they interpreted country life vs. city life and it surprised me that it actually seems to be quite similar to how we view urban and suburban life today. This was the first full length silent film that I’ve watched, and I found that it was actually still really engaging despite the lack of explicit dialogue. This could also be due to the fact that this movie had a synchronized score and sound effects as well. Through watching this movie I think that I have a greater appreciation for sound effects and musical score, because it really kept the film moving for me and I did not find it hard to follow. All in all I enjoyed the film more than I originally anticipated I would.

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    • liarina ⋅

      i agree with what you are talking about. Sunrise also break my own original expectation for silent movies since I always think they are boring without any spoken dialogues. However, the sound effect in Sunrise just make this film even more enjoyable and interesting since it enhances the emotion that the film trying to make and it arose the feeling for audience. And after watching Sunrise, I would love to watch more silent movie because this one is so good and make me wonder maybe there are still a lot of silent films are like this and just wait for us to find out.

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    • jonsnow ⋅

      After watching the entirety of the film and had time to think about why I enjoyed it as much as I did, I think that it’s an equal combination of initial surprise, the musical score, and the compelling story. The initial surprise came because the quality of the film compared to silent film clips I had seen in the past. I know that Sunrise was the first silent film to incorporate a synchronized musical score and sound effects, but I didn’t realize how much this would expose the importance of these two aspects of film. The quality of both the score and the special effects was the winning point for an otherwise outdated film. I personally focus a lot on a film’s screenplay and the quality of its dialogue, but this film was really driven forward and given excitement through its use of sound. This combined with a storyline where I could not predict what would happen next, made for a very pleasant first impression of full length silent films.

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    • dinerbears ⋅

      At first i heard that we are going to watch the silent movie i thought it might be boring but actually this movie is really food without the sounds. i do agree with you that the soundtrack part. if there is no soundtrack in this movie it might be a boring movie. However, the soundtrack make the movie become interesting and i can catch their emotion by it. it simple than the any script and line because i do not need to guess the meaning and their emotion. Sunrise is my first time watch silent movie after this I would like to watch more in the future.

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  33. This was my first silent film i watched and it was amazing.
    I was very intrigued on how the director was able to keep the audience’s attention through the scoring of the film. In the past I have taken a film scoring course in TUJ and through watching this silent film, I was able to feel what the silent film was trying to say to the audience. Other than the scoring of the film, overall, I felt the film itself was very great! it reached out to most of the genres such as horror, comedy which gave it alot of suspense to what was going to happen. I look forward to other screening days to see what else is in store.

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  34. GreenBanana ⋅

    Sunrise A Song of Two Humans was the one of the few movies that is silent film. I have seen few chaplains film, but i thought this films was neat and simple. Overall, this is beautiful. This film is really on how the directer deliver the message to the audience. The story plot is very clear with exaggerating action and the background music.
    However, I thought the story was bit awkward. The husband does not need to kill wife to escape from the rural life. I don’t really get why is there an idea of city is an evil and rural is good. It was touching on german expressionism and Hollywood style of film. It tells different values placed at the time on the role of the woman. I don’t actually prefer watching silent films but this was a film that i wanted to watch one more time. There were things or expression only convey through silent film.
    In filming perspective, i thought the camera work is amazing. The lighting is perfect for the in the situation. I liked how directer make a contrast with two woman. Man’s wife was blonde and city woman had brunette hair color. it appeared to be like white and black. it means good and evil.

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  35. White Rabbit ⋅

    Following our class discussion, I can appreciate the bold expressions driven by the aesthetics of expressionism in the film. The technical aspects of the film, including the storm footage, sound, camera angles, and use of a dolly and crane indicate the magnificence of the film for it’s time. It was also interesting to learn that the film was inspired by David Friedrich’s landscape paintings, which are very artistic. I was also surprised to learn that the movie was filmed on a set. I may re-watch the film to see if I can notice the elements of a set, and watch the skipped content to see if it impacts my overall impressions of the film. I also want to see if the smaller objects that give depth can be easily identified.

    I also found our discussions about the submissive wife versus the dominant city woman to be thought-provoking. It’s interesting to see that the film only presents a few options; the submissive wife or dominant promiscuous woman. Many woman, even at this time, may not have fit either one of these molds, granted I realize the director is commenting on the country life and city life. As for the husband, it’s interesting how we can easily be compassionate towards him, dismissing his 2 attempted murders. I myself neglected this fact when sympathizing with him.

    This was a great silent film, and I look forward to watching it again soon.

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  36. Eddie ⋅

    I was actually very interested in the film I liked the way the music helped to push the story and added a dramatic flair to the movie. Even without words I think the emotion was conveyed through sound and the dramatic lighting. I’ve never actually watched a silent film before so it was an interesting experience for me, I’ve seen clips of Dracula before but never actually sat through an entire experience. I do wish though that it were in color a little, but maybe that would detract from the experience not entirely sure. I like black and white in still but I still feel that with the music and in black and white my focus does drift with the music a little bit. Overall I would say that the film has broadened my horizons and enabled me to appreciate older films a little bit more.

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  37. OOR ⋅

    I haven’t watched silent movie many times, so it was good to watch and I could enjoy the Sunrise A song of Two Humans. Sunrise was made by F. W. Murnau, a German director who was one of the leading figures in German Expressionism, a style that uses distorted art design for symbolic effect. Murnau was invited by William Fox to make an Expressionist film in Hollywood. I remembered that I have watched Chaplin a little bit. It was the funny movie as silent movie I have ever watched. I feel that making a silent movie is so hard to express what the director wants to tell and act as well. Background music also important for expressing how they feel and what they are doing. Sunrise was kind of sad story, so they have to act seriously like when the man tries to kill his wife, he act like a killer that his face is getting really scary and crazy such as the movie The Shining. At that time, the background music is so dark, slow and playing again and again. I still can’t understand why he tries to kill his wife even though he changes his mind to kill his wife before he meets the city girl second time. I imagine it is possible to see “Sunrise” for the first time and think it simplistic; to be amused that the academy could have honored it. But silent films had a language of their own; they aimed for the emotions, not the mind

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  38. postnroast ⋅

    The film Sunrise highlights a date in American film history known as the silent film era. The film uses no dialogue and over dramatizations to convey a plot of artistic conflict through expressionism. The director pours his vision into a playwright that encompasses Hollywood cliché and the power of expression through motion picture. The highlight of the film for me would have to be the scenes were the protagonist is perplexed by the idea of his lust. Which brings up the unanswerable question of what’s right and what’s wrong and challenges the audience to create their own opinion on the matter. This creates the idea of the angel and devil on the shoulders, which is untainted by the infrastructure of what film is supposed to be. This scene gives the author the ability to paint a deeper meaning without having to forsake his art nor the rules of film. For which, I see the true sin of man untamed by morals hidden in a complex oil based painting, and only when you wash away the thick paint of what society grades as acceptable can you see the dark and beautiful meaning. Nonetheless the before and after seem like just vast amounts of foundations on the face of the film sunrise. I believe the internal conflict of the man to chose his (good house)wife or a (scarlet deviant)mistress is the plot, ploy and vision.

    Liked by 1 person

    • postnroast ⋅

      Film summary:
      A vacationing Woman from the City (Margaret Livingston) lingers in a lakeside town for weeks. After dark, she goes to a farmhouse where the Man (George O’Brien) and the Wife (Janet Gaynor) live with their child. She whistles from the fence outside. The Man is torn, but finally departs, leaving his wife with the memories of better times when they were deeply in love.

      The man and woman meet in the moonlight and kiss passionately. She wants him to sell his farm—which has not done well recently—to join her in the city. When she suggests that he solve the problem of his wife by drowning her, he throttles her violently, but even that dissolves in a passionate embrace. The Woman gathers bundles of reeds so that when the boat is overturned, the Man can stay afloat.

      The Wife suspects nothing when her husband suggests going on an outing, but when they set off across the lake, she soon grows suspicious. He prepares to throw her overboard, but when she pleads for his mercy, he realizes he cannot do it. He rows frantically for shore, and when the boat reaches land, the Wife flees.

      She boards a trolley, and he follows, begging her not to be afraid of him. The trolley brings them to the city. Her fear and disappointment are overwhelming. He plies her with flowers and cakes and finally she stops crying and accepts his gifts. Emerging back on the street, they are touched to see a bride enter a church for her processional, and follow her inside to watch the wedding. The Man breaks down and asks her to forgive him. After a tearful reconciliation, they continue their adventure in the city, having their photograph taken together and visiting a funfair. As darkness falls, they board the trolley for home.

      Soon they are drifting back across the lake under the moonlight. A sudden storm causes their boat to begin sinking. The Man remembers the two bundles of reeds he placed in the boat earlier and ties the bundles around the Wife. The boat capsizes, and the Man awakes on a rocky shore. He gathers the townspeople to search the lake, but all they find is a broken bundle of reeds floating in the water.

      Convinced the Wife has drowned, the grief-stricken Man stumbles home. The Woman From the City goes to his house, assuming their plan has succeeded. The Man begins to choke her. Then the Maid calls to him that his wife is alive, so he releases the Woman and runs to the Wife, who survived by clinging to one last bundle of reeds.

      The Man kneels by the Wife’s bed as she slowly opens her eyes. The Man and the Wife kiss, while the Woman From the City’s carriage rolls down the hill toward the lake, and the film dissolves to the sunrise.

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  39. Following the class discussion, I felt I understood the dramatizations and expressionistic elements of Sunrise more clearly. At first glance and without much background, the film could be seen as an over-exaggerated, over the top representation of the type of conflict the protagonist found himself in. However, with the knowledge of the director’s artistic inspirations and expressionist style, it is clear that the film is an artistic tool of expression of an inner conflict, rather than a literal, anecdotal representation. I found the film very creative and easy to understand and connect to. However, having an updated, modern outtake on the world (it’s 2016 America, people!), I still found the content, however artistic and non-literal, to dissatisfy me and concern me. The director may have been giving a contextual perspective of the time of his inner turmoil. While many people do rightfully experience the type of inner conflict he was expressing, and it is not immoral to experience so, the fact that the women in the story were excluded as majorly influential characters deserving a protagonist role seemed strange. A partnership, in the end, was not really about both parties but rather about how the dominant role (male) sees and feels about the partnership.

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  40. TRONtravolta ⋅

    I must say that I do not have too much experience watching silent films, but Sunrise helped open my mind to older films. Being from 1927, the quality and techniques used were quite advanced and much better than I expected. The opening scene, which showed a passenger boat pulling into port, used a great way to be dynamic by placing the camera above, capturing the movement through the fog. That effect helps set the scene and setting, as the country side is gloomy and for the blue collar type workers. The scenes that were filmed during the night were also very impressing, as the viewer really felt that there was a full gleaming moon providing the source of light. This was really noticeable when the husband met his mistress by the waterside, as they were plotting to murder his wife. The light really made the scene a more dramatic scene, instead of plotting around a kitchen table.
    Besides the technical aspect, the plot was way edgier than the gentle title “Sunrise” presents itself with. Older films have a certain stereotype, of slapstick humor and “Leave it to Beaver,” plots, but this film was full of modern issues that seem openly talked about in present day. I thought the issue of a cheating husband and the chain reaction that it sets off, was quite edgy and before it’s time. I feel that this was a great film to start the semester with, instead of going a traditional route of showing something like Chaplin. Looking forward to the next film and discussion.

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  41. shmoo ⋅

    Based on current social trends, I firmly believed that the wife would end up killing the husband in the end. I understand now that comparing this film to modern expectations that come with relationships will only disappoint me. As we’ve discussed in class, after trying to kill his wife the husband tries to reconcile with a plate of bread. What I thought was funny is that she still eats the bread before breaking down sobbing. The scene after they go to the church is extremely impressive for the time, where the couple walks through a field of flowers, unaware of the dangers of the streets. The process must have been grueling, and the cut outs are suprinsingly well done. I believe this film works so well as a silent film because of these painstaking motifs. The images tell the story just as well. The field of flowers represents their bliss. And earlier on when the woman from the city is plotting with the husband, the city in movement displays their imagination and fantasy. I also thought the storm scene was really well done, as the water looked fairly realistic as it would in an ocean. The following moments of searching for the wife are also really cool, because I can assume they were reusing the same small set of water to travel several miles. I still believed they were really traveling. My one problem with this film, and like many films today, is how the woman is always blamed for the mans infidelity. Although the woman from the city did propose to drown the wife, the husband is the one who carries this act. The woman did not force him to lust after her, and commit adultery. If a man is so weak as to be persuaded by a few kisses and a smile, I think the villian is the husbands stupidity. They placed the woman from the city into a very cliche villian box, which worked for the film but it still really irritated me.

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  42. shmoo ⋅

    I agree with your thought that we can get a better understanding of the time through this film. It is a very realistic film that holds the same values and ideals from the time. We see that both in the set design (i.e cars, trains, the picture taking process) but also in the way people act and interact. It becomes apparent how marriage is supposed to be, and what is expected of the man and the woman by society. We also get a feel for how community came into play in the smaller towns, like how everyone cares about each others business. But in the city, everyone just goes on with their own business and do not care about the couple.

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  43. Armitage ⋅

    After thinking about the story a little bit, i think the story is pretty good but not great. Considerng that the film uses an expresionist strategy, i think the writer is trying to express his conflicted emotions about city life. The protagonist like many people at that time are drawn to the modernity and excitement of the city. Though i think most people from outside the city dont recognize their ‘county’ aspects untill after the enter the city. In the film however the man wants to kill his wife and purge his rural identity. At this point the film is half right. One cannot simply remove such a cornerstone piece of their identity, however in my opinion the man would not recognize it as something to be ashamed of untill after they enter the city. (I should note that the woman from the city could have told him to be emberased about the rural background, however i think that she represents the mans ambition to move to the city.)

    While im the city the man and the wife have fun but soon turn dissalutioned. And upon their return to the countryside, the wife almost dies. This is analogus to when one returns to a rural comunity after having been changed by the city. The mans rural identity was almost lost. The key word being almost, his upbringing is too crucial to his identity to simply die.

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    • OOR ⋅

      I agree with you that excitement of the city that most of people who are living in the countryside yearn for living in the city like Tokyo because city life can have a lot of things that they have everything mostly can have fun in there and eat delicious food. Especially, people in this movie feel of yearning for living in the city because the husband and wife are living in countryside where just surround by trees and they serve a farm and growing some plants? Therefore, the city girl attract him to live in the city together that he gets confused what he has to do because he has a wife. I’m also living outside of the country, but I don’t think that I want to live in the city because it is packed a lot of people and I feel like people who are living in city are unkind that especially in the morning, they are in hurry going to work place, so they don’t care about other people I feel. I agree with you that he was almost lost his identity that he was trying to kill his wife. He was kind and good husband before, so I’m glad to rebuild their relationship.

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  44. KillDozer ⋅

    Before the class lecture and discussion on this movie, I hadn’t considered that this was an expressionist film. That really does put kind of a new spin on it’s plot considering it’s all an expression of the directors own inner conflicts, presumably his own struggles with the monotony of monogamy. Sure, in the film it’s taken to extremes, literally life and death situations, the cut and dry goodness of the wife and the badness of the city woman, the comfort and peace of the country versus the allure and the decadence of the city, it’s all analogous for Murnau’s and men’s in general thoughts and feelings as it pertains to being “tied down”. Ultimately, though he made some mistakes and hurt his wife a few times, the husband eventually comes to his senses and does the right thing, or at least the responsible thing. I’d be willing to bet Murnau followed roughly the same path himself, although without the attempted murders.

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  45. The film Sunrise (1927) shows a romance that would fit perfectly in the current times. The story narrates the life of a young and confused man who betrayed his wife, and moreover, is now tempted to kill her. But, despite this kind of horror film plot, the protagonist turns out to regret his decision and decides to spend more time trying to get his wife back. After that, the film becomes the classic Hollywood romance movie, focusing on the happiness of the country couple walking in a crowded city. However, a storm almost kill the young woman, what made the man feels just like he actually killed her. In the end, the traditional cinematographic happy ending showed that even in sad stories, things may end well, especially to the audience.

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  46. TaiwanSwag ⋅

    I like the movie Sunrise even more after the class discussion on Monday. At first I thought all the exaggerated actions were to compensate the lack of spoken dialogues in the film, however, I was wrong. This film is an expressionist film which explains the actions as the tool to express the inner conflict of the characters, especially the protagonist. It is also very interesting to know that the film was shot on a set. The backgrounds and the scenes are very artistic and realistic, especially the rainstorm scene. It’s amazing to see how technology was already well developed and used back in the 1920s.
    I found the soundtrack to be more important than I thought it would be, at first I thought it was just a style that the director is using to compensate for the lack of spoken words. However, the music actually helps set a tone and a mood for the scene. It is also very interesting to see how the movie describes the city girl and the rural girl. The city girl is like the life in the city, chaotic and complicated, and the rural girl is the life in the rural area, relaxing and simple. Although it might influence the outcome of the story, I am still curious about the parts that we skipped and might go back and watch it to see if there are more things for me to discover in a silent film.

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  47. BIGANTEATER ⋅

    Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans is a film whose story has aged gracefully and remains relevant and close to men and women even today. In Sunrise a hardworking country man falls to the temptation of a flashy city girl. While out making hot love under the stars, the wife of the adulterer stays at home looking after their children. Although she knows what her husband is up to, she is unable to confront him about it. Eventually, the husband is taken so deep down the rabbit hole that he is persuaded to kill his wife so that he is able to flee to the city and start a new life with his new found flapper girl. As he takes his wife out to the middle of a lake to presumably drown her, he suddenly has a change of heart. From this point on the film continues with him showing his wife that he does indeed still love her despite his “fall to the dark side”. This love story is one that is experienced by people all over and the emotion that this film conveys is one that all can relate too. The story is told beautifully with a smooth progression. Although the film is in black and white due to technological limitations, it seems to add to the overall atmosphere of the movie. The scenes of the husband and wife riding in their boat on the moonlit lake have a deep look to them that is made more emotional from the black and white color scheme of the film. I can’t help but wonder though if the film would be just as impactful if it were in full color. Possibly the most interesting aspect of the movie is the characters of the city girl and the wife. The city girl is blatantly thrown under the bus and made out to be a dirty, husband stealing, loose, immoral women. The way her character is presented and the specific role and character of her is one that I feel is rare in films of the time. She is very modern woman in the sense that she does what she wants when she wants and how she wants. Free in all sense of the word. In contrast the character of the wife is one that is accurate of the “ideal woman” of the time. She is very docile, obedient, soft spoken, and lives to serve her husband. In the end she welcomes her husband back into her life with open arms, which in today’s times might not fly especially considering the fact that her husband tried to kill her. In all, the film was very enjoyable, not a sleeper, and triggered me to think about how even I treat the loved ones in my own life.

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  48. It is a lot of interesting how the director tried to express the love feeling between the two protagonist, specially in a mute film. But I think that it starts a kind of ‘conflict’ with the young people of our generation, mainly because we are used to see the actors speaking, crying, expressing themselves. In contrast, the mute film shows two characters acting in a different and kind of strange way in terms of affection, which is pretty distinct from the style of our century. As an example, the film Titanic expresses the romance and tragic scenes differently, which movie is not that old even considering that DiCaprio still did not have an Oscar at that time…

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  49. Vera Lynn ⋅

    A bit of a late entry here, but as I was going over my notes from the movie, I ran across something I forgot that I really wanted to talk about. I noticed that there were a few really long takes. One example of this is when the husband and wife duck into a corner somewhere and are sort of kissing. This shot goes on for quite some time. I really wonder how people of the time felt about it.

    Current movie audiences are so used to cut after cut after cut. It get’s to the point where in a lot of action scenes these days, a common technique is to have so many close up cuts that you can’t even tell whats going on. Honestly I find it frustrating. I think thats why The Battle of the Bastards from Game of Thrones got so much praise. The whole start of the battle is cut to look like one long take. Clearly there are cuts in the scene, but it looks fantastic and gives you a feel for the chaos of battle. compare that to something like any fight from any Transformers movie (aside from the 1986 movie). It looks like 2 junkyard fighting in a tornado.

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    • Armitage ⋅

      I think in an action sequence its not speed or frequency of cuts, but rather precision and continuity that matter most. Its easy to say a blockbuster action film with 3 cuts a second is poorly edited, but you cant argue that the action is intense. Conversely, when using long shots and slow editing the tension builds which makes the action more cathartic. but imagine a saloon brawl with no cuts; it may be artistic and interesting but, I’m not sure the intensity will come across. For me one reason the really early westerns are uninteresting, is because the action seems bland. It would be a mistake however to associate that blandness of action to the time period. One reason many action movies especially westerns love Kurosawa, is because of his fast editing style. The famous final action sequence in Seven Samurai, used several cameras filming the same scene. This allowed Kurosawa to keep his cuts in continuity with the action, which made it easier to cut more often. While the amount and frequency doesn’t quite match a Hollywood blockbuster, Seven Samurai has significantly more energy than many of its contemporaries.

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    • OOR ⋅

      I agree with you that you mentioned an expressionist film which explains the actions as the tool to express the inner conflict of the characters because this is a silent movie. The silent movie is one of the most difficult movie to act and express how the actors feel and what they do. They can express as any words, so the movement and music are the most important for the films that can categorized as sad movie or funny movie I think.also, the actors who are in this film act really well that I can feel and see how they feel especially actor and actress of husband and wife were awesome. I was amazed and scared when the husband decided to kill his wife. His face and music have changed like a horror movie which is dark and deep music. I agree with you that background music is important that I realized after watching this movie.That movie is interesting even though I haven’t watched many of silent movies before. Th is movie of the storyline is really good that it was constructed well. I’m glad that he has changed his mind to kill his wife. One more thing that background and scene of rainstorm could imitate well even though it was shot in the set.

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    • OOR ⋅

      I don’t know the exactly the technique of cutting the scene that I’m learning in the film class. Actually, how we make the video and edit the video is so difficult that it depends on person who edited how the video can get a good evaluation, and using the sense of editing. I feel that it developed the technique of making movie from then according to the statement you mentioned. Cutting is one of the most difficult thing in making movie that it can’t be a lot of cuts, but less cutting makes people boring. I got interested in the movie you stated, so I’ll watch it later on.

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  50. Peach ⋅

    “Sunrise” was the most comical film from the 1920’s I had ever viewed. Everything from the characters, to the plot, even the movements of the actors and actresses were hilarious to me. First of all, the plot, consisting of “The Man”, “The Woman”, and “The Woman From the City”. When I first looked up the cast I thought it was a joke, there was no way those were the casts’ parts’ actual names? But I learned quickly that this really wasn’t all that weird for this time period. I may be immature to find it hilarious but an image of the director or casting director just throwing their hands up in exasperation and screaming, “That’s it! I’m exhausted! I can’t think of any names for our cast, just name them Man and Woman!” is extremely funny to me. Moving on to the actual plot, The Man seems to be bored with his current life with his simple but kindly, countryside wife and newborn child. Enter, The Woman From the City! She brings intrigue, mystery, and excitement into The Man’s life and he’s instantly lured in by her seductive city charm and her dark physical appeal. Fast forward a bit and we see The Woman from the City attempting to convince The Man to drown his wife so they can be together. The husband, who has a change of heart, decides against the idea of drowning his wife at the last minute, allowing her to escape death and be united with him in the final moments of the film. The woman from the city is an antagonist whose role is to pressure the relationship. Her role is important, as it helps the marriage be restored from the existing problems where the man was cheating on his wife. The child is also an interesting figure in the film, as it deepens the investment of the husband in his marriage, and thus reflects poorly on his character if he leaves his wife.

    The movie has an element of comedy, in my opinion, and the marital issue was resolved too quickly. It almost appeared unrealistic. For starters, why did his wife forgive him so quickly? Why did The Woman from the City not move forward with the murder plot? Did the mistress mean anything to him? It appears that his reflection period was too brief. It felt insincere, as a sincere man would have spent significant time repenting. The way his character redeems himself too quickly is in some ways reflective of present themes in Japan, where men tend to cheat on their wives without significantly redeeming themselves. It seems, too often, that this type of mistake is a reflection of a character flaw, that repeats itself again and again.

    From another angle, the film could symbolize the inner-battle within a man’s heart, contemplating good and evil. The wife is reflective of the good, where the mistress is reflective of evil. This could reflect the inner-battle of many men, and if that is the case, women are reflected with no rights, as thought the world revolves around man. A woman is expected to raise the children, take care of the home, while the husband goes to work and makes all the decision. In this way, the film portrays a good wife as a meek, silent, submissive wife who does not speak even when her husband is cheating on her.

    One could also argue that the film presents a strong conflict between the country and the city. The country is considered the land of the innocent, while the city is considered the land of pure evil. Ironically enough, the director is from a German city. Maybe he experienced the negative effects of the city life, and maybe he eventually relocated to the country.

    Although the film lacks action, and the acting seems forced at times (although this was common during this time period), the film still impacted the industry in a significant way, in regards to cinematography. The film received an academy award for artistic expression, and it has yet to be awarded again since. The reason for this, is because of the significant artistic expression. I was baffled by how the director was able to achieve a film of this level using the poor equipment of this time. He may have been one of the first directors to use camera motion during the film. This may appear very simple to modern-day directors, however at this time, cameras were not motorized, and required to be hand-cranked. Most people, up to this day, can’t figure out how he successfully shot the scenes in his film. One particular scene where the man is moving through the swamp to meet the woman from the city, the camera follows his movements. The only way this could be possible is if the camera had been suspended from the ceiling in the studio. Just thinking about how the director would have used all resources to complete his film reveals his sense of resourcefulness, and his ability to overcome the impossible. It’s also good to note that while the city backdrops were cardboard cutouts, other props weren’t, such as the people, trains, and such, which appears almost impossible for this time period.

    One could also ponder, what would the outcome have been if he would have killed his wife and went off to the city. Or, if he would have not murdered his wife and went off to the city. What would the city have thought of the wife? Most likely, she would have been blamed for the fallout, maybe even treated as a whore. It’s unfortunate that in Japan, this is still the case today. Women are often blamed for a broken marriage. Even though the film may not have been intentionally created with deep meaning, it certainly makes us question the role of a life in the country compared to a life in the city. Certainly, the cinematography is great, even for today’s standards, and for a silent film, it’s helped us understand the ongoing battle between good and evil.

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