Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
This review contains SPOILERS.
While movie aficionados and the common thought alike will tell you that "Wings" was the first Best Picture winner, it would be not entirely correct without mentioning "Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans". See "Wings" won the Oscar for 'Best Picture, Production'; but "Sunrise" won for 'Best Picture, Unique and Artistic Production'. And it is more unique and artistic than its counterpart "Wings" which is more of a straightforward war story.
"Sunrise" has no genre that you can put your finger on. It starts very dark and there is a dark undertow that remains throughout the movie. At the beginning of this silent movie, we are told that this film is representative of a marriage and how two humans interact. Much of this film is symbolic, not in the language, but in the actions of the characters. In order to condense an entire life's marriage into one hour and thirty minutes, some poetic liberties had to have been taken.
No names are given to the characters and there are only really three main figures in the film: a man, his wife, and the other woman.
"Sunrise" begins with summer time, a vacation time. Many people are frolicking and having great times, but then they need to return home. One lady stays behind, a woman from the city we are told. She has fallen in love with a farmer who is unhappy with his marriage.
He slogs through his daily life, seemingly depressed because he can't justify his dissatisfaction.
The lady that he's having an affair with is desperate to have him all to herself. She suggests that he drown his wife and then sell his farm and return to the city with her.
At first he's shocked at this suggestion and angry because he thinks that it's wrong and ridiculous. But the idea sits at the back of his mind and nags at him. Eventually, it becomes such a powerful thought that he can't do anything but attempt to kill his wife.
His wife is a lonely woman who still loves her husband very much. When he comes to her and asks her out on a boat ride, she is thrilled at the opportunity. But once she's out on the lake she realizes that something is wrong, very wrong.
The music swells and he steps over to her side of the boat—but he just can't do it.
He quickly brings the boat to shore and she runs off, scared of him.
Immediately he knows that he made a mistake, but how can you make it up to someone you just tried to kill?
Here is where the movie is symbolic. The rough times are over-exaggerated to the point where it's murder and the good times are sweet and sugary.
But something happened while I was watching "Sunrise"—I was very much enthralled with the characters.
The idea behind the movie is stupidly simple and yet uncharacteristically effective.
"Sunrise" is indeed a song of two humans.
Life is hard, life is good, life is love.
Marriage isn't a walk in the park, it's hard but it's also satisfying.
"Sunrise" is more emotional than "Wings" and more intimate than hundreds of movies to follow it. It's a great classic—a sheer work of art.
Score: 4 out of 4 stars
Posted by Micah Jones