Sunday, July 8, 2012

Silent Sundays: Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)




“This song of the Man and his Wife is of no place and every place; you might hear it anywhere at any time”

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans is a beautifully perfect film. I honestly could not get enough of this fantastically stunning silent film. When it was over all I could think was how perfect and beautiful it was. Sunrise was artistically filmed and told but it is not one of those artistic films that I could only recommend to certain people, it is an artistic film that I can recommend to every film lover. The story starts off dark and tense and even almost ends that way but sandwiched in between is happiness and a love I think any couple would want to have in their lives.
            Man (George O’Brien) lives in a small town where in the summer many vacationers come to relax from the city. He lives on a farm with his wife and child. The whole town knows that Man has been seeing The Woman From the City. They run around together during the day. Woman tries to lure Man to come with her to the city. She tells him he must drown his wife making it look like an accident. Man freaks out at her suggestion he cannot believe this woman would suggest something like that but his dreams of a new exciting life are very strong.
            The Wife (Janet Gaynor) is a very pretty young woman. She loved Man more than anything else in the world. Two village women look at The Wife and Man and say that they used to be so carefree and happy together and they used to laugh a great deal and now Man runs around with The Woman From the City and the money lenders are after his farm.
            In the morning, Man wakes up to see his wife still sleeping. He sits on his bed tortured by his visions of The Woman From the City holding him and kissing him. Man tells his wife that they are going to spend the day out on their small boat. The Wife is very excited she is looking forward to going out with her husband for the day. Walking out to their boat their bark dog barks at Man like mad. Man looks at him nervously as if the dog knows what is going to happen. The dog jumps in the water after him but Man takes him back.

            Out on the boat a good distance from shore, with a crazed look in his eyes, Man goes to kill his wife. Fortunately he stops himself he cannot kill her he loves her too much. Wife is now afraid of him she cannot even look him in the eye. On the opposite shore The Wife jumps out of the boat and runs as fast as she can to get away from her husband. She gets on a train heading for the city. Man also gets on the train. When the train stops in the city Man and Wife get off and he tells her over and over to not be afraid of him. The whole time walking through the street Man has his arms around his wife like a protective blanket even though she cannot look at him. He takes The Wife to a café and orders some food. The Wife does not even take a bite of her food and she begins to cry. Back on the street Man buys his wife some flowers. They look each other in the eyes, he says to not be afraid, and she begins to sob.

            Across the street from them they see a bride walking into a church. Man and Wife walk into the church to watch the ceremony. The priest tells the groom that he must keep and protect her from all harm.” That line Man breaks down and cries into The Wife’s lap and she holds his head. They go out into the hallway where he kneels down and begs for her forgiveness. She forgives him, they kiss, and walk out of the church looking into each other’s eyes.
            Man and Wife have a wonderful day together. They get their photograph taken and accidentally break a statue and run out like little children. At night they go to an adult amusement park and have the time of their lives.
            On the way home in their small boat, their renewed love is almost lost when a vicious storm ravages the lake.
            Every single performance is flawless and wonderful. This was the first time I have ever seen Janet Gaynor in a film. I have heard of her from the first version of A Star is Born which I have always wanted to see and will definitely do so now. Gaynor was so good and so adorable. You feel terrible for her character because she truly loves her husband and, for crying out loud, he almost kills her! George O’Brien as Man was wonderful. He was so handsome. O’Brien had the perfect look for a rough country man who melts into the expressions of a little boy. I have to give a mention to the little baby in the film because it was so cute as it grabbed Gaynor’s hat and clothes and gave her hugs. I could not get over how cute it was it has to be the cutest baby ever in a movie.
            F.W. Murnau filmed some of the best scenes ever in a film. I could not get over how stunning and beautiful literally every scene was. The scene where Man and The Woman From the City are sitting in the field alone night was gorgeous. I could not get over how beautiful the scene of the train car driving along into the city was. You would have to see both scenes to see what I mean. I read that all the technical tricks were done in the camera they were not added later. One trick that was really cool was when Man is sitting on his bed and he thinks of The Woman From the City with his arms around him kissing him and you can see her apparition around him. I cannot wait to watch more films by Murnau.
            Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans is a perfect film in every way. The story is good I honestly did not want it to end especially because the characters were so good. Man and Wife were this realistic couple who needed to fall in love again and they did through a great day alone together in the city. The story is a love story but it is not cheesy or annoying it is tragic and heartwarming. Even when they were happy walking around the city together their love still had a bit of a tragedy to it. I make a mental list of films I would show if I were to ever teach a film class and Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans is at the top of my list. There are not enough adjectives in the English language to express how much I love this film.