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Sunrise

06 Dec

Sunrise – directed by F.W. Murnau. Marital Drama. 95 minutes Black And White 1927
★★★★★
The Story: A young farmer, in midst of a mad affair with a cosmopolitan woman, follows his wife to The City, and their lives are changed forever.
~
It’s the only film allegory I know of. Allegory is a favorite mode since reading The Faeirie Queene, because the truth of how we humans actually live our inner lives is deeply explorable in allegory.

Anyhow, the film is a masterpiece for other reasons, not least because of the performance in it of Janet Gaynor. Sunrise won the first Oscar for best film and Gaynor won it for a collection of performances she gave that year, Seventh Heaven, Street Angel, and this. She certainly deserved it.

Watch what she does when he takes her out in the boat to drown her. Watch her when the boat is at the shore.

Gaynor was an actor of charm. One gets tired of charm. But not here Charm connects to the child’s approach to the vicissitudes of life. Its passport carries its bearer beyond the point of: “I know you won’t hurt me,” into an irresistable triumph. You can understand why George O’Brien is drawn to the porcelain sexuality of Margaret Livingston, with its core of brutality and greed. Such love is a complete system with no outside view. So they plan to murder the wife. Gaynor knows he is having the affair, but she then senses he means to kill her.

The film begins, as in Shakespeare, in the middle of all this and goes from sin to sin, as it shifts to The City with its luxurious barber shop, its mashers, its piggishness, is vagrant fun, its glistering pleasures. And Murnau has these two pass through these worlds, anyone of which could destroy them, somehow protected by the charm Gaynor exudes – charm as an armor, on an Amazon innocent of it and even ignorant she is an Amazon.

The picture was made by the old Fox studio then under the guidance of the sound-pioneering William Fox, so it has a sound score and sound effects. But you don’t need words. Not for the first time, the silence speaks louder than they.

Sunrise is generally considered to be one of the greatest films ever made. When you see it, or see it again, you probably won’t have any trouble with that conclusion.

 
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Posted in ACTING STYLE: SILENT PANTOMIME REALISTIC, Uncategorized

 
 
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