Thursday, July 15, 2010

review: Sunrise

I will say this: it is a gorgeous film. Gorgeous in its simplicity and in the beautiful sweetness of the story. That being said - this film would never be able to be made in this day and age.
This 1927 Silent film is a little gem. It is one of the movies listed on AFI's Top 100 list, as well as winning Oscars at the very first Academy Awards ceremony ever presented, and is on the National Film Registry and adopted into the Library of Congress collection. The only sad part is that the true original film is lost to us. The original was destroyed in a nitrate fire in 1937 - so what is presented today is only a piecing together of something close to the original. It works still, but you have to wonder what the differences are.
The story revolves around a man and his wife. The man is cheating on his wife with this vixen from the city, who proposes that he drown his wife - and of course, men being the way they are - he sets the plan in motion. However, at the critical moment, he can not do it. The wife runs away, and catches a trian to the city. He follows her. They make amends, spend a glorious day in the city, rekindling their old, fun-loving romance, and head back. I stop here, so as not to ruin the movie completely for you.
Like I said, the story just would not work. A man tries to kill you, and then an hour later, you're getting your portraits taken together? Wouldn't work in this day and age. But somehow, it just does in the movie. The poor wife is the sweetest thing, and of course, she looks like an angel - so why he is unhappy at home never really gets explained. The vixen is obvious enough - a typical 1920s vamp flapper with dark bob and eyeliner to match.
The music, the design, and the lighting work together so well. The director was a German and very much influenced by German Expressionism. And you can see that - without being beaten over the head with it. The only room that looks a little misconfigured in the beginning is the bedroom. Other design aspects are in place, but you don't really notice them unless you are looking for it. Look for the forced perspective in the city scenes. Almost flawlessly done. It's just gorgeous, reaally. It really does seem like a visual song of the life of these two humans. It's sweet. Might be too sweet for some, but it is definately worth a watch - if for nothing else than to think back to a different time.
4 out of 5 stars

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