World Films 2015
Sunrise: A song of Two Humans. 1927. Dir: F. W. Murnau
Ironically there is something to be said for silent movies, how the lack of dialogue seems to be a great conduit for increased expression, emotion and communication. The adage of actions speak louder is none truer than in this film, the first to be released using synchronised sound-on- film, only days before the first Talkie ‘The Jazz Singer’.
The title of first of the first ever music video ever made usually goes to XTC’s ‘Making Plans for Nigel’ released in 1979, but Sunrise opening credits expresses this as a song rather than a film, it might be a long shot, but after reading the poem that Mayer wrote as an alternative to a script, I’m sticking with this as a title competitor, and also going to raise it, adding the longest music video to its potential accolades, as it beats Michael Jacksons ‘ghost’ by approximately 34 minutes. Being first is not what this film is all about. Crude hand-painted opening credits open to the film with a clear and strong use of German expressionism. Distorted scenes, clashing over each other, geometric buildings echoing in the oddly triangular trees, enhance these already moody portrayal, with a style used by Hitchcock and more recently seen in the work of Tim Burton.
Subtitled ‘A song for two humans’ this is a classic love triangle. Three people, a love affair, a superfluous ordinary farmer’s wife or a modern independent woman. A simple solution. Murder. This 1927 film is a relationship thriller, man plotting to kill his wife for his lover, it has romance, a couple whose love is reignited witnessing a strangers wedding, and is an epic personal drama, a man who wants his lover, attempts uxoricide, then changes his mind. A lot to take in without words and will keep you watching to the last minute. Sunrise covers 3 out of the four genres, a feat itself. While the story might not be the strongest or most original, it’s the cinematography that redeems this film to the next level.