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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blu-ray: What a magnficent release from Masters of Cinema and no-region coding either !
In 1927, German film director F.W. Murnau (known for his role in German Expressionism) was invited by William Fox to make an Expressionist film for Hollywood and in return, Murnau created a film that would simply become a true classic and a true masterpiece with "Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans".

The film is highly regarded as a masterpiece and is featured in the...
Published on March 2, 2010 by Dennis A. Amith (kndy)

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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting piece of film history
My husband needed this movie for a film class. It was ok, and kept our attention. The story-line was a little darker than we expected, but overall it was interesting and entertaining. It was cool to see a piece of film history. I don't think we would watch it again... we didn't enjoy it quite that much.

The quality is what is expected for an old silent film. No...
Published 1 month ago by Susan


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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blu-ray: What a magnficent release from Masters of Cinema and no-region coding either !, March 2, 2010
This review is from: Sunrise [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
In 1927, German film director F.W. Murnau (known for his role in German Expressionism) was invited by William Fox to make an Expressionist film for Hollywood and in return, Murnau created a film that would simply become a true classic and a true masterpiece with "Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans".

The film is highly regarded as a masterpiece and is featured in the American Film Institute's "100 Movies List of Great Films" (#82) and the British Film Institute's critic's poll as the seventh best film in motion pictures. The film won an Academy Award for "Unique and Artistic Production" at the first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929 (including "Best Actress in a Leading Role" for Janet Gaynor and "Best Cinematography" for Charles Rosher and Karl Struss) and was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Although the film was highly regarded then and now, the film was not a success at the box office because of its creative and artistic interpretation while critics were calling it a true masterpiece.

"Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans" was the first film with a soundtrack of music and sound effects utilizing Fox's Movietone souund-on-film system and for its creative and artistic style, the use of groundbreaking cinematography during that time would influence many filmmakers and even has been referred to as the "Citizen Kane" of American silent cinema.

Despite the original negative for the film being destroyed in 1937 due to a major nitrate fire (nearly 80-90% of Hollywood's silent films by Fox Film Corporation's created between 1910-1920's were destroyed) at Fox's storage facility in New Jersey. Fortunately, a 1936 print held by the UCLA Film and Television Archive and the NFTVA were still present (the UCLA print was later destroyed due to advance decomposition in 1992). In 1995, Kevin Brownlow and David Gill of Photoplay Productions prepared a new print for the 1995 London Film Festival using the NFTVA print and in 2002, restoration talks for the film began. A fifth generation 1940 nitrate negative print was found in 2002 and then a 1927 print loaned by the Narodni Filmovy Archv in Prague featured a Czech version of footage not featured in the American release.

Eureka! via "The Masters of Cinema" has released "Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans" featuring both Movietone and Czech films on the Blu-ray release and with a choice of the monaural Movietone score and the stereo Olympic Chamber Orchestra score.

VIDEO:

"Sunrise: A Song for Two Humans" were shot with two cameras thus one has the aspect ration of 1:20:1 and the other with 1:37:1 According to Eureka!, the Blu-ray version of the films were encoded with both HD masters in 1080p AVC format on BD50. Eureka! decided against HD-DVNR, MTI or other forms of digital restoration or grain removal after tests revealed noticeable disruptions of the film's "Sfumato" qualities in many scenes. And thus, their hands off approach was their respect to the filmmaker and the patina of the image. The level of damage still present is exactly what you would see if the film was projected via 35mm theatrically.

Having not seen any previously DVD or VHS release of "Sunrise: A song of Two Humans", I can tell you that from what I saw... despite it having some scratches and dust, I was very impressed with the picture quality of the film on Blu-ray considering the film is over 80-years-old. According to my associates who have compared this film to the previous standard definition releases from Fox and Eureka!, this HD release of the film is absolutely fantastic!

I will say that the Czech version is a bit much more difficult to watch because it's missing frames and thus I prefer the Movietone version.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

Eureka! via "The Masters of Cinema" has released "Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans" featuring both Movietone and Czech films on the Blu-ray release and with a choice of the monaural Movietone score and the stereo Olympic Chamber Orchestra score by Timothy Brock. According to Eureka!, the absence of any surviving soundtrack for the Czech version led Fox to roughly approximate the Movietone score to it in 2008.

Original English intertitles on the Movietone version are featured and optional English subtitles on the silent Czech version.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

"Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans - The Masters of Cinema Series #1" comes with the following special features:

* Audio Commentary - Full-length audio commentary by ASC cinematographer John Bailey on the Movietone version. Interesting to hear Bailey's comments, especially on the camerawork and effects used.
* Outtakes - (9:57) Outtakes with optional John Bailey commentary. It's amazing that a film of this age has any outtakes. So, I was surprised to see this on the Blu-ray.
* Murnau's 4 Devils: Traces of a Lost Film - (40:55) Janet Bergstrom's updated 40-minute documentary about the lost Murnau film "4 Devils" featuring still pictures, art and details of scenes from the film.
* Original Theatrical Trailer - (1:50) The original silent theatrical trailer.
* Original `photoplay' script - The original "photoplay" script by Carl Mayer with Murnau's handwritten annotations (150 pages in pdf format). You can download these from the Masters of Cinema website as well.
* 20-Page booklet - Illustrated booklet with film restoration and DVD/Blu-ray transfer information, along with a comparison between the two versions.

JUDGMENT CALL:

I have wanted to see "Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans" for such a long time. I've waited with heavy anticipation for UK-based entertainment company Eureka! to release this film via Blu-ray courtesy of their Masters of Cinema series and I am so grateful that they decided to release this film with no region encoding, so anyone from all over the world that has a Blu-ray player can enjoy this film.

After watching the film, I can't help but gush about how fantastic this film is. From the crowded streets in the city to the innovative camerawork and editing, I was simply amazed of what was accomplished back then. The film is literally gripping as the film has its share of action and drama and literally from beginning to end, "Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans" manages to captivate you courtesy of George O'Brien and Janet Gaynor.

O'Brien plays the man from the country with such a great presence as Gaynor transforms from this sad housewife to this vibrant woman, especially in one scene with the crowd ask the two to dance. But the camera work and artistic presentation was just phenomenal. The whole city sequence created on the Fox back lot with hundreds of extras and cars from that era in a traffic jam to the man and wife attending a fair. I don't know how much was spent on this film but everything on camera just worked. I was overwhelmed by how magnificent this film was but then watching the special features that came on the Blu-ray release, especially the slight differences from the Movietone and Czech version was quite interesting to see, especially to know that we will never be known of what was the final cut that Murnau had wanted due to the original print being destroyed in the Fox Warehouse and many other prints out there suffering from major deterioration.

But what we are able to see on this Blu-ray release, again...I'm grateful for Eureka! for releasing this Blu-ray via non-region but most importantly, choosing a silent film for its first major release on Blu-ray. If anything, I am more inclined to purchase the Murnau DVD box sets out right now and look forward to watching the Master of Cinema's next Murnau Blu-ray release "City Girl".

Overall, "Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans" is simply magnificent and this Blu-ray release is just outstanding! If I had to give this film a rating, then definitely an... A+!
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Silence is Golden, January 21, 2010
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This review is from: Sunrise [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Pure visual poetry. No serious movie-lover or historian should be without this disc. It is Region Free and so will play anywhere. It is also a new scan, since MoC felt that the 2005 scan wouldn't be good enough for a 2009 Blu-ray release (hear that, Criterion?), and it's gorgeous. The only real digital work that has been done is to stabilize the frame and even out the flicker, something that nearly drove me mad about the 2005 DVD release (but only after repeated viewings). Everything else is here, scratches, an occassional missing frame or two, film grain (thank god!) so the result is like watching a screening of a very good print. Sunrise, like Murnau's other monumental classic, Nosferatu, suffered a fragile and dangerous history, but has survived nonetheless. In typical Murnau fashion, the first half of the story is a brooding thriller, then it moves, quite logically, into a romantic comedy, then turns to tragedy. Murnau liked to cover the whole spectrum in his films, mixing laughter with tears.

A beautiful, mesmerizing visual poem. Get it, and help bring this kind of filmmaking back to life.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best artistic film of 1927 is still worth watching, November 7, 2009
This review is from: Sunrise [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
From the press release:

This new 2009 reissue of Sunrise (for the first time anywhere in the world in 1080p HD on Blu-ray, in addition to a newly mastered 2 x DVD set) contains two versions of the film: the previously released Movietone version, and an alternate silent version of the film recently discovered in the Czech Republic, which is of a higher visual quality than any other known source. The Blu-ray edition includes both versions in 1080p HD. Czech archive of a higher visual quality than any other known source. Supplements include:

1. Restored high-definition transfers of two different versions: the American Movietone version, and the silent Czech version Original English intertitles on the Movietone version, and optional English subtitles on the silent Czech version
2. Original Movietone score (mono) and alternate Olympic Chamber Orchestra score (stereo)
3. Full-length audio commentary by ASC cinematographer John Bailey on the Movietone version
4. Outtakes with either John Bailey commentary or intertitles
5. Murnau's 4 Devils: Traces of a Lost Film - Janet Bergstrom's updated 40 minute documentary about the lost Murnau film
6. Original theatrical trailer
7. Original 'photoplay' script by Carl Mayer with Murnau's handwritten annotations (150 pages in pdf format)
8. 68 page illustrated booklet with numerous essays including a new reprint of a piece by Dudley Andrew

End of press release.

There is nothing special about the story behind this movie. A farmer (George O'Brien) is attracted by a vamp from the City (Margaret Livingston) who seduces him and has gradually had him selling his farm off piece by piece to provide presents for her. She finally suggests that he leave his failing farm altogether and return with her to the City. However, to complete the plan, he will need to drown his country wife(Janet Gaynor). A few days later, the farmer takes his wife for a trip to the city. As he rows his wife across the lake that is between their village and the trolley, he comes close to doing away with her. However, always a reluctant partner in this plan, he recoils in horror and rows the boat to the shore, his wife unharmed. The wife, having seen the murder in her husband's eyes, jumps onto the trolley to the city with her husband in hot pursuit. Once in the city, he reassures her that he would not harm her, and he begins to feel real remorse for his previous actions. They slip into a church and watch a wedding ceremony going on, and in doing so begin to reconnect to one another. By the end of the day, they've fallen in love again; the man remembering why it was he married his wife in the first place. However, when a storm breaks out on their way back across the lake, the wife falls out of the boat. The farmer goes for help and the entire village looks for her, hoping she has not been drowned in the storm. This rather simple story could easily have been transformed into a hackneyed melodrama. What makes Sunrise a great film, though, is the majesty and tenderness F.W. Murnau managed to give it without the benefit of audible conversation.

Particularly intriguing is the set of the unnamed "City". If the traffic patterns shown in this movie are indicative of traffic laws in the 1920's it's a wonder anybody made it to or from work alive. Early autos, horse-drawn carriages, and people all chaotically race through the streets without rhyme or reason. Also wondrous are the night shots of the Coney Island-style amusement park where the farmer and his wife go for some fun before returning home as well as the view of the trolley ride and and the glide following the farmer through the moonlit marsh. This truly was the "Best Artistic Picture" of the year.

A little known fact is that Sunrise was one of the first feature films to use sound-on-film techniques, in which Fox was a pioneer. There were fully synchronized sounds of automobiles, church bells, crowds, and other effects. Unfortunately, "The Jazz Singer" was released shortly after Sunrise, and Sunrise failed at the box office. Time, however, has had a different judgement. Today, "The Jazz Singer" is mainly remembered for ushering in the age of the talkie. Likewise, "Wings" which won the first Best Picture "Oscar", is largely remembered for its aerial stunts, for which it also won an engineering award. Sunrise, however, is still appreciated as a whole motion picture experience, not just a temporary technical triumph that has faded as other technical triumphs take its place.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Be careful which version you buy!, June 25, 2010
Amazon has many versions of Sunrise, I was looking at the imported Korean version because it came up with my search for it in Blu-ray. It even had reviews that referred to a Blu-ray version.

But upon a more thorough investigation, I found out that the imported Korean version is only the regular DVD Version - not the Blu-ray. If I had purchased it, I would have been very, very displeased.

This is something that Amazon has been doing a lot of lately - mismatching reviews - one has to be careful.

my two cents.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Song of Two Humans, December 19, 2010
This review is from: Sunrise [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Some films become instant classics. Others are not so lucky. 'As cold as the marble a sculptor uses', 'the sort of picture that fools highbrows into hollering Art', 'there is a not a heart-throb in Sunrise,' 'Mr Murnau's film is more than technically competent but woefully ignorant of matters of the heart.' There were good reviews too, more for it's ambitious technique than it's other merits, but Sunrise was generally regarded as a disappointment on its first release. It was quickly overshadowed at the box-office by Janet Gaynor's following film for Frank Borzage, Seventh Heaven and left a shadow over F.W. Murnau's Hollywood career, only finding an audience many years after his death and assuming its position as one of the great achievements of silent cinema many years after his death.

In many ways, Sunrise is the last great masterpiece of German Expressionist cinema. The cast and the studio may have been American, but those behind the camera were almost exclusively German (cult director Edgar G. Ulmer, who many years later would delve deeper into film noir with Detour, was one of the assistant art directors), having a notable effect on the look and feel of the film. There is little in contemporary American cinema to compare with it save King Vidor's less experimental but emotionally similar The Crowd.

At the time, Murnau was the hottest of the German Expressionist filmmakers, due to the international success of Nosferatu and, in particular, The Last Laugh. He was eventually wooed to Hollywood by William Fox, who put all the resources of his studio at his disposal. Surrounding himself with his favourite collaborators, most notably cinematographer Karl Struss and screenwriter Carl Mayer, he built massive sets and constantly reshot scenes in his quest for perfection. Expectations were high, and were bound to be disappointed.

Many felt the story, based on Herman Sudermann's novel The Journey to Tilsit, too slight: a farmer (George O'Brien) is persuaded by a woman from the city to drown his wife and run off to the city with her, but finds himself unable to do it and falls back in love with his wife (Janet Gaynor), only for her to fall overboard in a storm. Indeed, it has often been argued - especially by some the films admirers - that the plot is merely an excuse for Murnau's visual experimentation, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Both characters and narrative have an unpatronising simplicity that is completely involving. Set against the contrasting worlds of the country and the city, the design is striking only in that the film is almost entirely studio shot: both the city and the funfair were in fact false forced perspective sets, as was the swamp. There is certainly a real sense of a world existing beyond the requirements of the plot, but Murnau uses them to ensure his total control of all the elements and does not linger on them unduly, keeping the focus firmly on the characters throughout, never giving in to spectacle purely for spectacle's sake.

Murnau's use of the camera is truly remarkable, with a look and composition that remains unique to this day, but his visual approach is in the service of the emotions, building a cumulative effect that has few parallels. The husband's shadow appearing at the window to signal to his mistress or the camera following the woman's footprints in the mud, even the shadows of the trees against the white farmhouse wall in daylight create an oppressive atmosphere in the first third that adds to the joy and despair that follow. Yet, where one of the key criticisms of the expressionists has always been their relentless pessimism, Murnau belies this with the sheer fun of the central city sequence. There's a lot of humour in the film, be it George O'Brien chasing a drunken piglet in a ballroom, Arthur Housman's lech putting moves on Gaynor in the barbershop or Eddie Boland repeatedly rearranging the strap's of a woman's dress.

As what was intended as a murder becomes a second honeymoon, the film does not give in to cheap sentiment but instead has a real feeling for the everyday, simple pleasures. When the couple respond to the barbershop manager's entreaty to 'Come again soon' by inviting him to visit them someday, the film does not condescend to either party. He takes it as much of a compliment as they intended it. Indeed, considering its early appearance as a motive for murder, everyone they meet in the city is remarkably benign as if the city were bringing them back together to make a liar of the woman of the city and her motives.

The film is filled with ambitious visual effects: images of a bright shining city of light and motion are conjured up out of a swamp in stark contrast to the funereal atmosphere of his farm; a ghostly image of the woman is superimposed over the tormented farmer as he makes up his mind to kill his wife; and when crossing a city street with his wife, it fades away to reveal an idyllic countryside that is only shattered when they realise that their passionate embrace is literally stopping the traffic. Yet the most powerful effects are the emotional ones.

The primary problem with any romance has always been the language. How to convey the growing closeness between two people which transcends the limitations of the dialogue? Murnau simply dispenses with it altogether and just gives us pure, undiluted emotions in action.

There are surprisingly few titles, those there are resonating throughout the film, often being repeated to bracket key shots. The film is a fundamentally visual experience. We don't need to hear or know what O'Brien and Gaynor are saying - we feel it through the way they respond to each other, the way the distance and mistrust is gradually, painfully lessened as they move back together. Even in their cathartic moments in their reconciliation - his inability to kill her and his breakdown in the church when they watch a wedding - more than just the mere essentials are expressed through body language. Their actions and reactions speak far more eloquently than any dialogue ever could.

O'Brien's performance is predominately insular for much of the film, a man withdrawn into himself both physically and mentally, his reactions veering towards (but only at the end giving way to) violence, his posture almost simian as his humanity has been sapped away. With Gaynor the transformation is one from hope to realisation, but with O'Brien it is much more dramatic, almost a complete rebirth as he rediscovers his passion for his wife and for life itself. There's a real sense of, almost childlike, joy to him in the funfair sequence that makes you understand why Gaynor held on to him so long after the bad times came.

But the film belongs to Gaynor in a stunning performance that is one of the miracles of the silent cinema, indeed is one of the most remarkable pieces of screen acting in film history. She understands how to work to the camera, but is never 'working' it. It isn't a display of technique but an embodiment of the heart, remarkably natural and unaffected but very affecting: you don't merely observe her feelings, you share them.

Witness the expectation and disappointment in her face as O'Brien ties up the dog that has followed them into the boat. Her look conveys the memories, joys and disappointments of an entire marriage in a few seconds. Or the way that while he cannot stand to look at her, avoiding all eye contact, she tries to playfully move into his line of vision, only for the smile to fade tragically from her face. Later, when they are reconciled, as she watches him in the barbershop, the way she worries what his response will be to an attractive young manicurist is a delight to watch.

At first, their performances are stylistically at odds, as with the early scene crosscutting his wife's joy at what she thinks is reconciliation with his torment over her forthcoming murder, but it's not a selfish performance on Gaynor's part. As the film progresses, she seems to be willing the life back into him, so that when she is lost in the storm there is a real feeling that it is not only her life that has been lost but his as well.

Much has been made of the almost musical construction of his films, and it is very much a symphony in three movements: the opening section on the farm, the idyllic episode in the city, and the storm sequence and it's aftermath. But, if anything, Sunrise is ultimately a journey towards the light. The narrative begins in darkness and an oppressive mood of emotional frustration and, while the director had reputedly at one time planned a darker ending, it ends with a resurrection and the birth of a new day sweeping away the shadows of the old. In most films this would seem a cliche. Here it provides a fitting end to one of the most profoundly emotional experiences in all cinema.

Eureka's all-region BluRay offers a fine selection of extras to compliment the film too - not only all the extras from Fox's Region 1 DVD (outtakes from the film, choice of alternate soundtracks, audio commentary by cinematographer John Bailey and a documentary on Murnau's lost followup, Four Devils) but also the fairly recently rediscovered shorter alternate Czech version of the film!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The U.S. Blu-Ray / DVD Release Of SUNRISE Is Cause For Celebration., March 1, 2014
By 
Chip Kaufmann (Asheville, NC United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sunrise [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Is SUNRISE the greatest silent film ever made? Many polls consider it so but to me comparing it with a handful of other silents such as NAPOLEON or BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN or GREED (not to mention the comedies of Chaplin and Keaton) is like comparing apples and oranges. What is without question is that SUNRISE: A SONG OF TWO HUMANS (to give the film its complete title) is one of the greatest movies of all time sound or silent. The fact that we still have it is a miracle as the original negative was destroyed along with virtually all of the pre-merger Fox Films (except for Shirley Temple and Will Rogers) in a horrific warehouse fire in 1937. That is why there are so few Fox silents available. Fortunately more and more are being discovered in foreign archives like the John Ford film recently discovered in New Zealand.

A simple story of love, betrayal, and redemption is transformed and elevated into a work of art captured on film thanks to director F.W. Murnau and cameramen Charles Rosher & Karl Struss. There are so many things to savor in this film, such as the breathtaking cinematography in the village scenes which is reminiscent of the 17th Century Dutch Masters, the Bauhaus influenced set designs of the City, or the remarkable performances by George O'Brien and Janet Gaynor (who won the first Best Actress Academy Award), that trying to compile a complete list of them here would take up too much space. It is the first film to officially feature a soundtrack (as opposed to sound on disc) and is the only movie to win an Oscar for "Unique & Artistic Production". The first Best Picture award went to WINGS.

The new U. S. Fox Blu-Ray / DVD combo pack is a cause for celebration as it provides us with the best surviving American version which looks remarkable considering its age and history. It also comes with a Czech version of the European release (which is 79 minutes instead of 94) as well as valuable audio commentary and your choice of the original Fox Movietone soundtrack (which has been sonically remastered and sounds fantastic) or a newly recorded score by Timothy Brock and the Oympia Chamber Orchestra. There are also outtakes, the original script, and promotional materials as well. If you are truly a lover of cinema then you need to see SUNRISE and decide its status for yourself. Like all truly great films, it can be watched over and over again and that is the highest compliment I can bestow.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars IF YOU WANT TO SEE A BEAUTIFUL SUNRISE..., November 1, 2011
By 
Casey62 (Chicago, Illinois) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sunrise [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I have already praised F.W. Murnau's 1927 masterpiece in a DVD review, so I just want to say here that a blu-ray upgrade is definitely worth it, especially if you're like me and really love this film. I also want to point out that the shorter Czech version included in this edition was transferred from a slightly sharper source print, and differs from the American version in its use of alternate takes and in the length of some shots. Eureka's release is the best we're apt to see of this exquisite, cinematic work of art.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for the Movie Fan Who "Doesn't Like Silent", November 16, 2010
This review is from: Sunrise [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I watched this movie on TCM thinking it would be another interesting silent film that eventually gets boring enough to fast forward to the more interesting parts with DVR. Instead I was mesmerized by the emotion and magnificent scenery. This is a must see for anyone who can relate to the dilemma of a good person tempted by love and lust to dispose of his wife and family. It is honest and very realistic with a refreshing sense of story telling above and beyond most twenty-first century talkies! I am fortunate enough to have seen a few clips of this movie on Blu Ray. It's a must own with fine acting as a bonus!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding in all Respects -, November 16, 2010
Sunrise", made in 1927, is a masterful movie that was released at the beginning of the era of talkies. It is not exactly a silent movie, because it has a musical score synchronized with the story and the soundtrack included some sound effects. During a crowd scene in a busy street you can hear voices yelling "Get out of the way!" "Sunrise was well done and poetic with deep themes of guilt and redemption. The plot is simple and poignant. A young, married farmer with a baby, falls for a seductive city woman. She is a flapper that just wants to have fun, the money from the farm and move to the big city with all its action. She uses her feminine wiles to convince him to drown his wife.

At any rate the naive farmer plots to murder his sweet, trusting loving wife during a boat ride. He promises her a day off the farm with a boat ride to the city. They leave their rustic farm and cross a lake or a river to the bustling, crowded, tempting city. His wife is full of anticipation of a good time as they leave their young child with their live-in servant. He looks dark and evil as he rows the boat, her expression changes slowly from one of anticipation to horror. The farmer's conscience is awakened as he starts to get up to throw his wife overboard. He is ashamed and she is frightened, betrayed and crying so hard her body is shaking in misery. As soon as they get to land, she hops out of the boat and runs to the trolley, which he catches as it takes off to the city. Once in the city, it seems they do not belong and are confused and caught in the wild traffic. They find some quiet in a church while a wedding is in progress. They renew their commitment to each other while vows are being made. It is a touching scene and brings light to their lives as they enjoy the rest of their time with a photographer and then the big wild and futuristic nightclub.

The story is heart-wrenching poignant, and a silent movie masterpiece. I found it romantically beautiful and deeply poetic. It should be noted that the special effects were used skillfully to show the effects of light, night and day and themed elements of good and bad. The faithful wife is blond, the evil temptress Flapper has black hair and painted eyes and lips.

It is a fabulous movie and hardly needed the subtext - the acting and directing gave it great emotional power and each themed scene had the best technical touches for the time. Janet Gaynor starred as the devoted wife and George O'Brien starred as the adulterous husband.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly great -- a classic, June 10, 2010
By 
(The following is copied from my review in [...] -- probably in 2003)

"Sunrise" was the featured film at the 10th annual Kansas Silent Film Festival, Washburn University, Topeka, KS. Music provided by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.

The festival discussion described this film as being an American studio's attempt to be taken seriously as a quality studio instead of being known as the producer of quantity. Germany at that time was known for making the most important, serious films and so a famous German director (Murnau) was brought in and given a blank check to make a statement film (its final total expenses pained the studio).

But the result is a powerful, timeless film on themes of betrayal, seduction, adultery, murder, and reconciliation.

For today's taste, the actors somewhat overly-dramatize their actions (as typical in the silent era) BUT just as most of us adapt quickly to reading subtitles in a foreign film, most also adapt to this convention to convey the message between those intermittent written screens that give dialog or explanations.

My understanding is that the very first year the Academy Awards were introduced, THIS film -- made a couple years earlier -- was the VERY FIRST chosen to be honored as "Best Picture." While I've not seen the other silent films that were its competitors, this honor certainly seems fully deserving. The actors, photography, pace, unfolding, etc., are all superb. Some of the scenes will remain in my memory forever.

What a rare treat to have seen it! I rate it as one of the all-time best movies I've ever seen.
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Sunrise [Blu-ray]
Sunrise [Blu-ray] by F.W. Murnau (Blu-ray - 2009)
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