#7 Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

Watched: August 3 2016

Director: F.W. Murnau

Starring: George O’Brien, Janet Gaynor

Year: 1927

Runtime: 1h 34min

Sunrise

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Warning: This film will toy with your emotions.

This was a new one for us. In a small town, a farmer is having an affair with a woman (read: femme fatale) who’s on vacation. Naturally, she suggests he kills his wife, sells his farm and goes to live with her in the big city. She has the whole plan worked out to the smallest detail, and he goes along with it.

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“Scary ghost mistress lady made me do it. Honest!”

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The farmer’s wife knows about the affair (and is sad yet extremely passive about the whole thing) but when he suggests a boat ride, she seems to think that everything is fine once more. She is, of course, wrong (and naive – even the dog knows what’s up!). Once in the water, the husband attempts to go through with his diabolical plan. However, he cannot do it, and rows them to shore, where she promptly runs away (good girl!) and he chases after her.

Considering trying to murder your spouse will put a strain on any marriage, they deal with it in the best way possible: cake! Also flowers, wedding crashing, photography and dancing. And this is what I meant by saying it will toy with your emotions. The thing is, what he has done is despicable and unforgivable. Yet, the two of them are so sweet and adorable running around the city, drinking wine, dancing, chasing pigs and trying to put a head on a Venus de Milo statue, you end up wanting them to live happily ever after!

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Nothing like attempted murder to spice up a marriage!

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I suppose he realises that it was the lure of the exciting city that attracted him rather than the mistress or something to that effect, because he ends up doing everything the mistress talked about with his wife instead. And they’re adorable, which they have no right to be after what he almost did.

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“Hah! Remember that time you tried to murder me?”

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Now, the film doesn’t end here, but we don’t want to spoil the ending for you. It is worth watching in full, and you can easily find it on Youtube.

The film is beautifully shot with great use of light and darkness (which of course is very symbolic throughout). The wife is completely adorable (though annoyingly passive in the beginning), but the husband we’re not too sure about. The title suggests their humanity and that we shouldn’t judge them too harshly so we won’t. (It also suggests that the mistress is somehow less than human as she is clearly part of the story but it only involves two humans.) Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans is still a bit of a feelgood movie and worth watching for the photography scene alone. Or the dog. Whatever rubs your Buddha.

Next time: Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)

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#2 Nosferatu

Watched: July 30 2016 (double feature night!)

Director: F.W. Murnau

Starring: Max Schreck

Year: 1922

Runtime: 1h 34min

Liquids consumed: 2 ciders each

 

Nosferatu

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As many of you will know, Nosferatu is an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s epistolary novel Dracula (1897). However, due to copyright problems, the names and places had to be changed. Thus, the vampire is (the now iconic) Count Orlok, portrayed by (the equally iconic) Max Schreck. If there were ever a name more suitable for playing movie monsters, I do not know what it would be. This was one of the films I had on DVD, but it is also available on Youtube (though with the names changed to ones more similar to those in Stoker’s novel).

The plot should be well known to most: a young man (here: a happy-go-lucky simpelton) is dispatched to Transylvania to help a Count buy property in Wisborg/London. At the mention of Count Orlok/Dracula, the local villagers are frightened and beg him not to proceed on his journey. And rightly so. The Count turns out to be a vampire, feeds on the young man and then leaves him prisoner in his castle while travelling to Wisborg/London to eat/seduce his wife/fiancé. There is also a professor who does research on vampiric stuff, but he is not that important in this version.

This is another German Expressionist film, although the sets are vastly different from those in Dr. Caligari. They are realistic rather than stylized, although the director plays a lot with light and shadows (as seen in the picture above) which we also saw in Caligari. There are nods to the epistolariness (is that a word? I’ll pretend it is) of Stoker’s work in that a lot of the intertitles are excerpts from letters and/or books.

Max Schreck portrays a very creepy Count, a far cry from Gary Oldman’s sexy, sexy beast in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 Dracula. Schreck’s character is more about the feeding and less about the ladies, if you know what I mean (although only a woman can lure him to his death). Count Orlok is very batlike (but not like Batman. More like an actual bat) whilst Oldman’s Dracula has more of the wolf about him. A sexy, sexy wolf…

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Nananananananana BATMAN!

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He is however oddly endearing as he emerges from the ship

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Helloooo? Iz anyone hier?

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In conclusion, this is an entertaining and spooky bit of cinema that everyone needs to watch at least once in their lives. We also recommend watching Sexy Oldman in Coppola’s 1992 Dracula. Cause Gary Oldman…

Next time: Safety Last (1923)