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Sunrise is the first feature film directed by F.W Murnau for Fox Film Corporation. It was released with synchronized sound-on-film using the Fox Movietone system. It was a big budget production. But the ‘first talkie’ The Jazz Singer (1927) from Warner Brothers which, came after a few days cut into its profits. The film fared badly at the box-office.
Also known as A Song of Two Humans is a fable portraying rural life versus urban life. The story could have been set anytime and anywhere. A rural couple’s enduring love overcomes the hostile, destructive forces of the Jazz Age city. Within this we have love seduction, attempted murder, forgiveness and reconciliation the whole gamut of human emotions to qualify this as a melodrama but in its treatment and development the story acquires a lyrical quality: it is poetic work of art with roots in the German Expressionist movement (from 1914 to 1924).
Austrian Carl Mayer wrote the screenplay, adapting the story/novella A Trip to Tilsit (“Die Reise Nach Tilsit“) by novelist/playwright Hermann Sudermann.
Plot:
A farmer falls prey to a seductress from the city. She suggests him to do away with his wife.
Woman: Tell me. You are all mine? (He nods and kisses her again. She strokes his hair.) Sell your farm…come with me to the City.
Man: …and my wife?
Woman: (laughing and holding close to his neck) Couldn’t she get drowned?
[The word drowned fades into view.]

He plots to murder her during a boat trip to City of Bright Lights. During this trip, the conscience of the farmer is pricked and he relents( reminiscent of a similar situation in the George Steven’s film, A Place In The Sun). In the city the couple fall in love again. On their return trip, a tempestuous storm appears to drown the wife, but she is eventually found and the family is reunited and reconciled.
Their tearful reconciliation is completed by a view of a church across the street where a wedding is taking place. It seems to bring to the farmer his own wedding and what it means to love. Overcome by emotion in a close-up, he sobs in his wife’s lap and recites along with bridegroom the vows. He now understands its significance of love even as the minister asks the bridegroom: “Wilt thou LOVE her?”
The minister continues:
God is giving you, in the holy bonds of matrimony, a trust. She is young…and inexperienced. Guide her and love her…keep and protect her from all harm.

Production Values:

Charles Rosher and Karl Struss won the first Academy Award for Cinematography (the first with panchromatic stock), for their skillful use of superimposition, effective employment of imagery and symbolism, and lyrical quality. Breakthrough camera tracking movements gave the film its fluidity and it wonderful atmospherics owe to the manner the camera could move through  space (the marsh, the trolley ride to town, boats, dance halls, trolley cars, and city traffic), creating an unusual illusion of depth and vastness. The moving camera was to influence future films, including John Ford’s The Informer (1935) and Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941). All the sets (both exterior and interior) were constructed to recede slightly in the distance, to produce further illusions of depth. Other techniques included placing larger physical objects in the foreground of shots, and having midgets as figures in the city backgrounds.
The contrast between rural ‘country’ life and urban ‘city’ life are emphasized through sun-lit and studio-lit exterior and interior shots and this sets the mood and interest. The moonlight, the swampy marshes, and the surface of the lake all capture the astonishing play of the light.
Memorable Quotes:
The Man: [pleading to his wife] Don’t be afraid of me!
—-
[opening title cards]
Title Card: This song of the Man and his Wife is of no place and every place; you might hear it anywhere, at any time.
—-
Title Card: For wherever the sun rises and sets, in the city’s turmoil or under the open sky on the farm, life is much the same; sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet.

Trivia:
*  The original negatives of the film were destroyed in a fire in 1937.

* Fox studio’s first ever feature film with a recorded score.

* Was the first and only film to win the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ (AMPAS) ‘Best Picture’ award in the category of “Artistic Quality of Production” (or “Unique and Artistic Picture”). This was the only year that this award was ever given out.

* The scenes in the city were not filmed on location. They were filmed on a vast and expensive set, built especially for the movie.

* Many of the superimpositions throughout the film were created “in the camera”. The camera would shoot one image at the side of the frame, blacking out the rest of the shot, then expose the film. They would put the exposed film back into the camera and shoot again, blocking out the area that already had an image on it.

Director F.W. Murnau wanted Camilla Horn (with whom he had worked in Germany on _Faust (1926)_) for the part of “The Wife”, but she was under contract to the German studio UFA at the time and they refused to loan her out, so the part went to Janet Gaynor.
* Although well-received critically, this film did not do well at the box office, which led to the studio “reining in” F.W. Murnau creatively for his next several films.

In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #82 Greatest Movie of All Time. It was the first inclusion of this film on the list.(imdb)
* Much of the exterior shooting was done at Lake Arrowhead in California.
* Murnau makes extensive use of forced perspective throughout the film. Of special note is a shot of the City where you see normal-sized people and sets in the foreground and little people in the background along with much smaller sets. (wikipedia)

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
Directed by     F. W. Murnau
Produced by     William Fox
Written by     Carl Mayer
Story:
Hermann Sudermann
Starring     Janet Gaynor
George O’Brien
Margaret Livingston
Cinematography     Charles Rosher
Karl Struss
musical score by Hugo Riesenfeld
Editing by     Harold D. Schuster
Distributed by     Fox Film Corporation
Release date(s)     Sept. 23, 1927
Running time     95 minutes
Silent film
English intertitles
Similar Movies
Variété  (1925, Ewald André Dupont)
Lonesome  (1928, Paul Fejos)
Broken Blossoms  (1919, D.W. Griffith)
A Day in the Country  (1936, Jean Renoir)
Fièvre  (1921, Louis Delluc)
Menilmontant  (1925, Dimitri Kirsanoff)
An American Tragedy  (1931, Josef von Sternberg)
East Is East  (1916, Henry Edwards)
Movies with the Same Personnel
Tabu  (1931, Robert Flaherty, F.W. Murnau)
The Johnstown Flood Narrated  (1926, Irving Cummings)
A Star Is Born  (1937, Jack Conway, William Wellman)
No Man of Her Own  (1932, Wesley Ruggles)
The Farmer Takes a Wife  (1935, Victor Fleming)
I Loved a Woman  (1933, Alfred E. Green)
The Iron Horse  (1924, John Ford)
Romance in Manhattan  (1934, Pandro S. Berman, Stephen R. Roberts)
Other Related Movies
is featured in:      Interview With the Vampire  (1994, Neil Jordan)
(wikipedia, filmsite.org http://www.allmovie.com)

Compiler:benny

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Director: F.W. Murnau
Genre: Costume Horror, Gothic Film, Horror
Summary:
The film that brought one of German cinema’s masters to international attention, F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922) is also one of the best screen versions of -Dracula, even if the Bram Stoker source received no credit. so much so that Stoker’s widow went to court, demanding in vain that the Murnau film be suppressed and destroyed. The character names have been changed to protect the guilty (in the original German prints, at least), but devotees of Stoker will have little trouble recognizing their Dracula counterparts. I cite this movie not because it is one of the best 100 films but because of its influence on later generations of film- makers. Eschewing the elaborately artificial studio-bound sets that gave most German Expressionist films their luridly somber mood, Murnau used actual central European locations for his vampire tale, thereby he anticipated neo-realism of Renoir and Rossilini. Murnau created a foreboding atmosphere through such cinematic techniques as negative exposures and stop-motion photography. Shot by Fritz Arno Wagner, the dramatic shadows and low angles that made Max Schreck’s vampire tower over his environs. The effect of the low angles was not lost on Orson Welles and Gregg Toland when they made Citizen Kane (1941). Though some critics have noted that the stop-motion effects have not aged particularly well, Nosferatu’s air of almost apocalyptic doom remains timeless, and Murnau’s combination of real locations and a superhuman monster is a key precursor to, among others, Alfred Hitchcock’s horror of the everyday and familiar.
The film begins in the Carpathian mountains, where real estate agent Hutter (Gustav von Wagenheim) has arrived to close a sale with the reclusive Herr Orlok (Max Schreck). Despite the feverish warnings of the local peasants, Hutter insists upon completing his journey to Orlok’s sinister castle. While enjoying his host’s hospitality, Hutter accidently cuts his finger-whereupon Orlok tips his hand by staring intently at the bloody digit, licking his lips. Hutter catches on that Orlok is no ordinary mortal when he witnesses the vampiric nobleman loading himself into a coffin in preparation for his journey to Bremen.
(Murau shot this scene in fast motion in order to indicate the villain’s supernatural powers but succeeded only in making it amusing rather than frightening.  Moral of the above? Think cinematically. Whether attempting supernatural or a poetic evocation of lost childhood for example the film must draw audience emotionally along.)
By the time the ship bearing Orlok arrives at its destination, the captain and crew have all been killed-and partially devoured. There follows a wave of mysterious deaths in Bremen, which the local authorities attribute to a plague of some sort. But Ellen, Hutter’s wife, knows better. Armed with the knowledge that a vampire will perish upon exposure to the rays of the sun, Ellen offers herself to Orlok, deliberately keeping him “entertained” until sunrise. At the cost of her own life, Ellen ends Orlok’s reign of terror once and for all. Rumors still persist that Max Schreck, the actor playing Nosferatu, was actually another, better-known performer in disguise. Whatever the case, Schreck’s natural countenance was buried under one of the most repulsive facial makeups in cinema history-one that was copied to even greater effect by Klaus Kinski in Werner Herzog’s 1979 remake – Nosferatu the Vampyre. Yet in the Herzog version, the crucial difference is that Nosferatu becomes more and more decayed and desiccated as the film progresses. Essentially a retelling of Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Herzog traces the blood-sucking progress of the count as he takes over a small German village, then attempts to spread his influence and activities to the rest of the world. All that prevents Dracula from continuing his demonic practices is the self-sacrifice of Lucy Harker, played by Isabelle Adjani. Director Werner Herzog used the story to parallel the rise of Nazism. The film was lensed in the Dutch towns of Delft and Scheiberg. Nosferatu the Vampyre was filmed in both an English and a German-speaking version; the latter runs 11 minutes longer.

( ack:Hal Erickson, Lucia Bozzola, All Movie Guide)

Cast:
Max Schreck – (Graf Orlok, Nosferatu)
Alexander Granach – (Knock)
Gustav von Wangenheim – (Hutter, His Employee)
Greta Schroeder – (Ellen Hutter)
G.H. Schnell – (Harding, Shipowner)
Compiler: benny thomas

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: Fritz Lang’s Dark Masterpiece, Still Shocking After All These Years (also known as M – Mörder unter uns (Germany) Murderers Among Us(working title)
M is for murder. It is as the mark of Cain, a commentary etched into the dehumanised soul of our society, M in the context of the movie holds a visual clue: it is tagged by an informer who is in the guise of a blind. He also serves as the front for the underworld.
The letter M is the same in its mirror image: society as we get to see in everyday world and shown to be something decent and morally uplifting holds a mirror image, the darker face of the underworld.  In Fritz Lang’s bleak vision of humanity dog eats dog. period. Elsewhere we see superimposed shots of police and the underworld  planning a  concerted manhunt with the city map opened out in front. Each has his own self interest and imperative that doesnot necessarily mean murder most foul must be eradicated from their midst. Oh no in the hall of mirrors no one is completely untouched by evil. The police have their own interests to protect as the underworld have theirs.
Now I shall outline the plot that is simple enough.
In an unnamed city (the story was based on a case in Duesseldorf, but many critics place the setting in Berlin, where “M” was filmed), a child murderer is stalking the streets. The Police search is so intense, it is disturbing the ‘normal’ criminals, and the local hoods decide to help find the murderer as quickly as possible.

A psychotic child murderer stalks a city, and despite an exhaustive investigation fueled by public hysteria and outcry, the police have been unable to find him. But the police crackdown does have one side-affect, it makes it very inconvenient for the organized criminal underground to operate. So they decide that the only way to get the police off their backs is to catch the murderer themselves. The film is constructed as a double manhunt.
‘Peter Lorre’s sweaty, puffy, froggy-eyed portrayal of a child murderer remains one of the most frightening images in screen history. All moist flesh and grubby, fat little fingers, infantile and pathetic yet truly monstrous at once, Lorre’s character is one of the great monuments to the true squalor of evil. He is not banal in the least, but neither is he dramatic: He’s a little worm with an unspeakable obsession, insane and yet a horrible reflection of the society that created him.

In a brilliant early montage Lang shows us the young Elsie being suavely picked up by her shadowy killer, led along streets and into the woods. There’s no on-screen violence, of course, but the sense of menace is unbearably intense, particularly as Lang signifies the murderer’s dementia in musical terms, having him whistle a selection from “Peer Gynt” as the demon’s grip on his soul grows more fierce. Lang polishes off the sequence with two horrifying images: Elsie’s ball bouncing across the grass, losing energy, and reaching stasis; and Elsie’s balloon caught (as if in torment) in the suspended telephone wires.’
… The cops, under great pressure, mount a massive manhunt; they attack the only target they have, which is the underworld — these guys are so well organized, they even have a stolen-sandwich ring! — and so the crooks respond by attempting on their own to find the killer.

In allegorical terms, Lang seemed to be getting at the escalating conflict between the increasingly inept Weimar Republic and the increasingly efficient underground Nazi Party, and the underworld, being more merciless and better organized, is able to uncover the villain before police.
But even when Lang documents the final apprehension (in a brilliantly edited and timed sequence where the cops are racing to a building that the gangsters have all but commandeered as they search it), he has a surprise. That is the ironic trial of which the clammy little human mushroom, where at last he speaks for himself, declares his own insanity and the pain it’s caused him and asks them who they are to judge — interesting questions to be asked in the Germany of 1931.

But the movie is, perhaps, just as interesting as a piece of film design as it is as a piece of narrative. It was the domestic high-water mark of German expressionist filmmakers, who were about to be dispersed around the world by the rise of those same Nazis, who would gain power in 1933.

German expressionism, which may have gotten to its strangest moment in 1919′s “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” was essentially a visual version of a treacherous universe. It was spread by this diaspora of fleeing German genius (including Lang, who went on to have a distinguished American career) and came to light in the works of Hitchcock and Welles but perhaps most notably in that movie genre known as film noir, which dominated the American screen in the late ’40s.

(ack: Stephen Hunter of The Washington Post published: April 22, 1998)

Germany( The Nazis banned this movie in July1934-1945), Black and White, 117 min / 110 min (2004 Criterion DVD edition)
Memorable Quotes:
Hans Beckert: I can’t help what I do! I can’t help it, I can’t…
Criminal: The old story! We never can help it in court!
Hans Beckert: What do you know about it? Who are you anyway? Who are you? Criminals? Are you proud of yourselves? Proud of breaking safes or cheating at cards? Things you could just as well keep your fingers off. You wouldn’t need to do all that if you’d learn a proper trade or if you’d work. If you weren’t a bunch of lazy bastards. But I… I can’t help myself! I have no control over this, this evil thing inside of me, the fire, the voices, the torment!
Schraenker: Do you mean to say that you have to murder?
Hans Beckert: It’s there all the time, driving me out to wander the streets, following me, silently, but I can feel it there. It’s me, pursuing myself! I want to escape, to escape from myself! But it’s impossible. I can’t escape, I have to obey it. I have to run, run… endless streets. I want to escape, to get away! And I’m pursued by ghosts. Ghosts of mothers and of those children… they never leave me. They are always there… always, always, always!, except when I do it, when I… Then I can’t remember anything. And afterwards I see those posters and read what I’ve done, and read, and read… did I do that? But I can’t remember anything about it! But who will believe me? Who knows what it’s like to be me? How I’m forced to act… how I must, must… don’t want to, must! Don’t want to, but must! And then a voice screams! I can’t bear to hear it! I can’t go on! I can’t… I can’t…

2.
Pickpocket with 6 Watches: There are more police on the street tonight than whores.
3.
Children: [singing] Just you wait, it won’t be long. The man in black will soon be here. With his cleaver’s blade so true. He’ll make mincemeat out of YOU!
4.
[to union member asleep next to him]
Beggar’s Union Member: Stop snoring! You’ll wake up the lice.
5.
Frau Beckmann: Elsie?… Elsie?… ELSIE!
Hans Beckert: That is a nice ball you have.
6,
Franz, the burglar: [Franz is being tricked into thinking he killed the night watchman, and is going to jail for it] Please, Herr Kommissar! I’ll tell you everything; even who we were looking for in that damned building.
Inspector Groeber: Really. Who?
Franz, the burglar: The child murderer, Herr Kommissar!
Woman in Crowd: Shoot him like a mad dog!
7.
Man in Pub: Hey, it’s fatty Lohmann!
Everyone in Pub: [Chanting] Lohmann, Lohmann, Lohmann!
Elisabeth Winkler, Beckert’s landlady: Could you speak louder please, I’m a bit hard of hearing.
Policeman: As if I couldn’t tell.
Inspector Karl Lohmann: Good God! The window sill!
Peter Lorre…     Hans Beckert
Ellen Widmann    …     Frau Beckmann
Inge Landgut    …     Elsie Beckmann
Otto Wernicke    …     Inspector Karl Lohmann
Theodor Loos    …     Inspector Groeber
Gustaf Gründgens    …     Schränker
Friedrich Gnaß    …     Franz, the burglar
Fritz Odemar    …     The cheater
Paul Kemp    …     Pickpocket with six watches
Theo Lingen    …     Bauernfänger
Rudolf Blümner    …     Beckert’s defender
Georg John    …     Blind panhandler
Franz Stein    …     Minister
Ernst Stahl-Nachbaur    …     Police chief
Gerhard Bienert    …     Criminal secretary

compiler-benny

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