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AlmostAGhost

Sunrise

Should Sunrise be on AFI Top 100?  

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  1. 1. Should Sunrise be on AFI Top 100?

    • Go to the big city (yes)
      6
    • Drown it in the lake (no)
      0

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  • Poll closed on 03/20/20 at 07:00 AM

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Amy & Paul rise up for 1927's expressionist F.W. Murnau masterwork Sunrise! They learn how Janet Gaynor won the Best Actress Oscar for three films at once, praise the film's groundbreaking soundtrack, and ask how such a simple story can resonate so strongly. Plus: Animal trainer Laura Bourhenne talks about the challenges of training pigs. For 12 Angry Men week, help defend a criminal character you think deserved a fairer trial! Call the Unspooled voicemail line at 747-666-5824 with your answer.

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Had never seen this one before, and like Paul I thought it was really great, stunningly inventive even by modern standards, and it's from the silent era!

On a pure plot/story level it's probably nothing special, pretty simple really. But in terms of how it's told visually, about the best anyone could have done.

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So, in the not-so-passive aggressive comparison between the BFI critics poll and the AFI poll, Sunrise has been in the too 10 films for the past 20 years ( number 5 and the previously, number 7). I found a link of a fuller list of the 1992 that indicated it was number 11 that year (though the annotation on the wiki page contradicts that).

Make of that what you will.

(The BFI Director's Poll however, places it at 22, which is... lower, but not as substantially lower as the AFI).

I still need to rewatch (this weekend, I'll probably stick with the non-Czech version on the blu-ray), but on first watch, I wasn't as taken by this as I was Man with a Movie* Camera or The Passion of Joan of Arc (though closer to the latter). Mentally, I always got stuck on the plot point that it's basically, "how do you say you're sorry (for planning to murder you)?"

*: Man With a Movie Camera tried to have no intertitles and was consciously trying to push the visual artform.

I'll probably appreciate the camera work more this time after having watched some of the documentary series, The History of Film: An Odyssey (I think I may have mentioned it on these forums before). It actually covers the shortcomings of movies with the introduction of sound (some of it alluded to in the podcast).  In addition to getting stuck in sound boxes, they had issues syncing the sounds, (anyone whose had to fiddle with the av sync on their receiver will appreciate what a difference 30 Ms makes). Which meant they had to film their close ups and crowd shots at the same time. Which could result in what would be considered flawed compositions so the cameras wouldn't catch each other (the point of the episode was, film was no longer a visual medium, but had become an auditory medium). Which gets driven home better of you see the scenes (I think the series is still on Hulu).

Of the silent era they covered that I haven't seen that I'm most curious in are the King Vidor (e.g. The Crowd - which has an office shot that would show up again in The Apartment) and von Stroheim (he later acted as the butler in Sunset Blvd) movies (e.g. Greed). Mainly because they were described as trying to present "a more real" world rather than the fantasy world of Hollywood. 

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I did this watch before Unspooled started a few years ago, and watching it again sort of surrounded by all the "great" films made me like it more. I could see the cinematic language and what Murnau was developing and pioneering.  

I am curious - I did consider some of the scenes in the city to be almost filling space. Like why was the dress strap guy there? Even the drunk pig: is there a symbolism there I missed? But I feel like Murnau knew what he was doing and maybe had a reason for these things. Any theories?

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25 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

I did this watch before Unspooled started a few years ago, and watching it again sort of surrounded by all the "great" films made me like it more. I could see the cinematic language and what Murnau was developing and pioneering.  

I am curious - I did consider some of the scenes in the city to be almost filling space. Like why was the dress strap guy there? Even the drunk pig: is there a symbolism there I missed? But I feel like Murnau knew what he was doing and maybe had a reason for these things. Any theories?

My primary theory would be that they were there for comedic effect.  But if there is something deeper with the dress strap guy, I think it's somewhat notable that this was occurring during the peasant dance, as it served to give a bit of juxtaposition between country folks and city folks.  While the couple from the country is having carefree fun dancing, this city dude is completely concerned with appearance, what should be worn, and how.  Like the Man and the Wife, the pig is also out of its natural habitat in the city.  As a farmer, it makes sense that the Man would be able to catch the pig when no one else can.  So again, I think both these things are used to show that they are outsiders in the city, so although they can have some fun in the city, they belong on the farm together.

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Oh yeah, as for the drunk pig, there is a Simpsons . . .

EDIT: As an aside, it astounds me how many great, memorable jokes are in this 2 1/2 minute clip.

-"Roll him up in a carpet and throw him off a bridge!" running gag.
-Curly/straight
-"Hell-ooo, that sounds like a pig fainting!"
-Richard Nixon appearance
-Wallet inspector

I didn't realize how good we had it with 90s Simpsons.

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