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People on Sunday (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

People on Sunday (Menschen am Sonntag) represents an astonishing confluence of talent—an early collaboration by a group of German filmmakers who would all go on to become major Hollywood players, including eventual noir masters Robert Siodmak (The Killers, Criss Cross) and Edgar G. Ulmer (Detour, Bluebeard) and future Oscar winners Billy Wilder (Sunset Boulevard, Ace in the Hole) and Fred Zinneman (High Noon, A Man for All Seasons). This effervescent, sunlit silent film, about a handful of city dwellers enjoying a weekend outing (a charming cast of nonprofessionals), offers a rare glimpse of Weimar-era Berlin. A unique hybrid of documentary and fictional storytelling, People on Sunday was both an experiment and a mainstream hit that would influence generations of film artists around the world.

Special Features

New high-definition digital restoration, created in collaboration with the Filmmuseum Amsterdam

Two scores—a silent-era-style score by the Mont Alto Orchestra and a modern composition by Elena Kats-Chernin, performed by the Czech Film Orchestra—both presented as uncompressed stereo soundtracks

Weekend am Wannsee, Gerald Koll’s 2000 documentary about the film, featuring an interview with star Brigitte Borchert

Ins Blaue Hinein, a thirty-six-minute short from 1931 by People on Sunday cinematographer Eugen Schüfftan

New and improved English subtitle translation

PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by film scholar Noah Isenberg and reprints by scriptwriter Billy Wilder and director Robert Siodmak

Product Details

  • Actors: Erwin Splettstößer, Brigitte Borchert, Wolfgang von Waltershausen, Christl Ehlers, Annie Schreyer
  • Directors: Robert Siodmak
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: June 28, 2011
  • Run Time: 73 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004S801Y0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,799 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "People on Sunday (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

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**EDIT 6-28-11** The overall quality of the Blu-ray is very good, not perfect, but very good considering the age of the film and the fact that sources of varying qualities were used. A few scenes are obviously from a source that had deteriorated to some extent, but Criterion did an excellent job on the restoration and included the scenes to make the film as complete as possible. Quality-wise, this is the clearest, most crisp version of this film that I have viewed.

Today, People on Sunday (Menschen am Sonntag) is mainly remembered as being a collaboration of several talented filmmakers early in their careers (Billy Wilder, Fred Zinnemann, Robert and Curt Siodmak, and Edgar G. Ulmer). Yes, this part of the production is fascinating, but the film itself is so much more than that. Produced during the latter days of the Weimar Republic with the German Expressionist movement screeching to a halt, this film combines several styles and influences in a unique and innovative way. The filmmakers use techniques of German Expressionism, add a twist of Scandinavian nature films, and top it off with a hint of some of their contemporary Russian directors, such as Eisenstein and Pudovkin (style not content). The creative blend of these styles, along with the amateur cast of locals (using their real names and professions), has been called by some a precursor to the Neorealist movement.

I will very briefly cover the plot, as to not ruin the film for someone who has never seen it before. The film is centered around five young Berliners: friends Erwin and Wolfgang, Erwin's depressed wife Annie, Wolfgang's new girlfriend Christl and her friend Brigitte. After Erwin has an argument with his wife, he and Wolfgang decide to go on a country outing the following day.
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An intriguing, cynical silent film featuring a wonderful glimpse of life during Weimar Republic-era Germany and created through the collaboration of young German filmmakers who would go on to have successful film careers a few years later.

The film's title "People on Sunday" (Menschen am Sonntag) is a 1930 silent film that featured a collaboration of Curt Siodmak (who would later be known for his "Wolf Man" and "Invisible Man" films), Robert Siodmak (who would later be known for "The Killers", "The Spiral Staircase" and "Criss Cross"), Edgar G. Ulmer (known for his noir films "Detour", "The Black Cat", "The Strange Woman"), cinematographer Fred Zinnemann (known for directing "High Noon", "From Here to Eternity", "The Day of the Jackal"), Eugen Schufftan (known for his cinematography on "The Hustler", "Eyes Without a Face", "Port of Shadows" and "It Happened Tomorrow") and Billy Wilder ("Some Like It Hot", "Sunset Blvd.", "The Apartment", "Double Indemnity"). And the most interesting thing about this film when it comes to its filmmakers is that many of these filmmakers have differing viewpoints on who was responsible for the film and are vocal of who put more work in and who didn't.

But if there is one thing that audiences are in agreement on, it's the fact that this film is a timeless classic and a glimpse to an era that is no more. But the film is also seen as a precursor to independent film. A film created with hardly any financing (financing came from Seymour Nebenzal, a cousin of the Siodmak's and a future collaborator of Billy Wilder), no-name actors and filmed on several Sundays during the summer of 1929.
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People on Sunday (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
This item: People on Sunday (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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