1. Guest,
    If you need help getting to know Xenforo, please see our guide here. If you have feedback or questions, please post those here.
    Dismiss Notice

DVD Review HTF REVIEW: "Sunrise" (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, Feb 14, 2003.

Tags:
  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
    Owner

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 1997
    Messages:
    44,708
    Likes Received:
    3,678
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    [​IMG]

    Sunrise





    Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
    Year: 1927
    Rated: NR
    Film Length: 95 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Full Frame (1.20:1)
    Subtitles: French & Spanish





    In this day and age it's difficult enough to
    convince people to watch a classic B&W movie, let
    alone one that is silent. For me, I looked forward
    to such an experience as I spent most of my teenage
    years looking at Super 8mm silents from Charlie
    Chaplin, Harold Lloyd
    and Laurel & Hardy.
    The opportunity to watch one of the greatest silents
    ever made was one that I embraced.

    [​IMG]

    The problem was, I knew very little about the 1927
    film Sunrise other than the fact that it was
    the film that was up for Best Picture alongside
    Wings, and was responsible for putting
    studio Twentieth-Century-Fox on the map. The film
    won awards for Best Picture (Artistic and Unique
    Production), Cinematography, and the Best Actress
    Award went to Janet Gaynor.

    [​IMG]

    My research into this film brought out some very
    startling facts. In 1937 the original negative was
    destroyed in a disastrous fire. An exhausting search
    was done worldwide to find any surviving prints that
    a restoration could be spawned from. This newly
    restored version is based on a surviving 1936 print
    held by the NFTVA and includes the first restoration
    of the original soundtrack, supervised by the Academy
    Film Archive.

    [​IMG]

    The film was directed by German-born F.W. Murnau,
    one of the most important filmmakers of the cinema's
    first thirty-five years. He is perhaps best known
    for one of the first classics of the horror film,
    Nosferatu (1922). He was known as a a master
    storyteller, a director who could inspire simple
    stories with an immense range of emotion and meaning.
    Watching Sunrise, I could see exactly how
    this director took a simple story and through its
    breathtaking and moving images, made this the most
    beautiful silent film I have ever witnessed.

    The story is simple: A country farmer (George O'Brien)
    meets a seductress from the city (Margaret
    Livingston) who convinces him to kill his wife (Janet
    Gaynor). The farmer decides he will take his wife
    out on a boat and drown her by throwing her overboard.
    Along the way, he finds that he loves his wife and
    can't go through with it, but fate intervenes in
    their rediscovered bliss.

    [​IMG]

    I must confess, I found Sunrise to be an
    extraordinary viewing experience -- truly ahead of
    its time with stunning camera work, superimposition
    and lighting that makes the film almost seem entirely
    dream-like. Filled with Rochus Gliese's gorgeous
    sets and imagery that is sometimes beautiful and
    sometimes haunting, it's a wondrous thing to behold
    what obviously came out of one man's imagination.


    How is the transfer?


    I'll be honest with you, when I sat down to watch
    this film I was quite disappointed. It looked like
    any other silent movie I had seen from that era,
    suffering from low contrast and film flicker -- not
    to mention a wealth of scratches and various
    blemishes. It was only a day later when I did
    some background research on this film that I realized
    that the original negative was destroyed in a fire.
    I also read that absolute care was taken to retain
    the flaws and limitations present in the original
    Movietone process and to remove only those defects
    caused by natural deterioration. In other words, the
    film looks exactly the way it was intended
    to be restored, "warts and all."

    [​IMG]

    In addition, it was quite cool to learn that the
    reason the film is presented in a 1.20:1 ratio is
    due to the fact that a need to add a Movietone
    soundtrack blocked a portion of the left side of
    the image.

    I have a few things to say about the two accompanying
    soundtracks that are available on this DVD. There's
    the inclusion of the original Hugo Riesenfeld composed
    movietone score (in mono) and a alternate Carl Davis
    Olympic Chamber Orchestra score. I spent the duration
    of the film switching between both tracks to see
    which one I preferred. Here is what I found....

    [​IMG]

    Though the newly recorded Carl Davis orchestration
    score adds significant fidelity to the presentation,
    the mono soundtrack is absolutely the way to go.
    The reason? This mono soundtrack has held up very
    well. It comes through with fairly good dynamics
    and not as much hiss as I expected there would be.
    Most of all, this score preserves many sound effects
    that are not included in the newly recorded score.
    These sound effects include traffic in the big city,
    splashing water beneath the boat, a horse's sneeze,
    and church bells in the distant. The one thing I
    did enjoy about the new orchestration was that
    instruments were far more defined. There are some
    great drum rolls, clashing cymbals, and even a grand
    electric organ that blares out during the Amusement
    Park sequence (note many of the crowd screams are
    absent from the new recording but added to the old).


    Special features

    [​IMG][​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Most worthy of a listen is the audio commentary
    by ASC Cinematographer John Bailey, who promises to
    take you through a "personal odyssey" of this great
    film -- which he does. He carefully takes us through
    scene after scene pointing out how various shots and
    superimpositions were done. Bailey is very keen on
    lighting techniques and he shows us how the director
    used the smallest objects to light his scenes. He
    also points out many of the styles (slanted tables
    and lights) that represent the set design of the
    German expressionist era. Being a huge fan of
    Cinematographer Karl Struess, Bailey does what he
    does best by spending every moment of the film
    pointing out every camera shot, as well as giving
    us a bit of background on Streuss's early days as
    a still photographer. Cinematographer Charles
    Rosher had a lot of previous Hollywood experience,
    mainly doing work on Mary Pickford films. Bailey so
    much loves the photography of this film that his
    descriptions are almost poetic. He points out
    the clash of cultures with an American film that
    looks mostly European (especially with its cast of
    extras). It seems the reason why William Fox
    brought Murnau to the states was because Fox did
    not want to make an American looking film. This
    could be the reason why the film received such
    critical acclaim, but yet was not a commercial
    success. Just an outstanding commentary!

    There are 10 minutes of outtakes with commentary
    by John Bailey. Most of it is just bits and pieces
    of various shots, but the most notable ones include:

    * Original full-length opening train station shot
    where you can see that the train used was a miniature.

    * A really odd camera shot that follows the farmer
    through the marshes, loses him, then speeds up to
    catch up with him.

    * Extended shots of the big city where you can see
    how the film was scaled with its buildings and
    surrounding movement.

    The condition of this footage is in pretty decent
    shape considering it was not part of the restoration
    process.

    What is interesting is that all of the material
    described above is once again repeated in outtakes
    with text cards
    . Taken from Harold Schuster's
    35mm nitrate workprint, we see watch these outtakes
    with the aid of text cards that describe the importance
    of the particular scene.

    [​IMG]

    The Original scenerio by Carl Mayer with
    annotations by Murnau
    is presented as a series
    of still images that you can use your remote to
    browse through. These are all reprints of what
    appear to be a sort of storyboard typed on index
    cards with added handwritten notes.

    Surprisingly, Sunrise was a commercial failure
    for the studio which led to led to a leaner budget on
    Murnau's other Fox assignment, Four Devils.
    Made in 1929, this film was thought forever lost.
    Here, we see a retelling of the film via original
    film stills, storyboards, lobby cards and programs,
    art department photographs and narration by Janet
    Bergrstom. Pretty interesting to watch.
    (length: approx. 40 minutes)

    If you want just the story of Four Devils,
    you can use your remote to scan through the separate
    Four Devils treatment and screenplay.

    A Still Gallery offers nothing more than
    4 photos that are publicity and behind-the-scenes
    related.

    Rounding out the extras is the film's original
    theatrical trailer
    that contains some alternate
    shots not in the film, the Sunrise screenplay
    that you can browse through using your remote, and
    Restoration Notes that give you the entire
    story on how this film was rescued and restored.


    Final Thoughts

    [​IMG]

    Sunrise is available through a special offer
    from Fox Home Video. It can be had absolutely FREE
    with the purchase of three Fox Studio Classic
    titles. I can truly sympathize with film buffs
    who are upset the film is not being offered outright.
    It really is a shame that Fox is not offering this
    great classic as a standalone purchase. In my
    opinion, this wasn't a very reasonable decision.

    Sunrise is a masterpiece that has stood
    the test of time. It's as beautiful to watch now
    as it must have been to movie audiences 76 years
    ago. I am placing this on my HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
    list in hopes that more people will take the
    opportunity to watch the most beautiful silent movie
    ever made.

    Release Date: NOW


    All screen captures have been further compressed.
    They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
    represent actual picture quality
     
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 1998
    Messages:
    28,150
    Likes Received:
    3,859
    Location:
    Michigan
    Real Name:
    Robert
    Ron,
    Excellent review and don't forget our friends outside of North America and those living in Quebec who are unable to get this dvd due to the restrictions placed on this dvd promotion.




    Crawdaddy
     
  3. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2002
    Messages:
    7,960
    Likes Received:
    841
    Location:
    North Hollywood, CA
    Real Name:
    Brandon Conway
    Great review, Ron! [​IMG]

    I'm glad to see that the 1.20:1 OAR was kept and no zooming was done. That's great attention to detail, Fox. [​IMG]

    It's also great news that the original soundtrack ws preserved. It adds so much to the film that I can't imagine watching Sunrise without it.

    As of now the only Studio Classic title I may pick up is All About Eve. Then it's a long wait until The Grapes of Wrath in June - and that's just 2/3rds of the dvd's I need to get Sunrise, which is the only Studio Classics film that I really want badly. [​IMG] The truth is that I just haven't seen many of the Studio Classics films, and I don't blind buy because my DVD purchasing budget is so minimal.

    Anyway, thanks again for the review. And thanks for a first look at the cover art. [​IMG]


    Now, if only Warner would release a nice SE of King Vidor's The Crowd - my favorite silent film - I'd be a tremendously happy camper. [​IMG]
     
  4. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2002
    Messages:
    7,632
    Likes Received:
    1
    great review ron for Sunrise.

    I am really surprised by all the supplements that come along with this so called SE, including a commentary and the 10 minutes of outtakes. Fox has done an outstanding job on this DVD.

    Having said that, I also would like to let FOX know that I am unhappy that we HTF'ers that reside outside the US & Canada cannot get this splendid dvd.

    here is a link http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...hreadid=125163 that I have done to let Fox know that I am disappointed that we are unable to get such a marvellous film on dvd. Please sign if you would like to get your hands on the Sunrise DVD.

    Kind regards

    Oscar
     
  5. Rain

    Rain Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2001
    Messages:
    5,020
    Likes Received:
    0
    Nice. [​IMG]

    I was worried this disc, being a "freebie," would receive sub par treatment. Evidently not so.

    And though I live in North America and will be snagging this DVD as soon as possible, I frown upon Fox's decision to not make this disc available to fans in other parts of the world. [​IMG]
     
  6. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2002
    Messages:
    7,960
    Likes Received:
    841
    Location:
    North Hollywood, CA
    Real Name:
    Brandon Conway
    Hey Ron - what's the spine # on Sunrise?

    Thanks in advance [​IMG]
     
  7. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 16, 2001
    Messages:
    7,512
    Likes Received:
    114
    Location:
    Alpharetta, GA, USA
    Real Name:
    Patrick McCart
    The clips in "Hollywood" from Sunrise are washed out. The laserdisc by David Shepard was washed out. Finally, we can see true greyscale and inky blacks in the image. The score has been a blarry mess, too.

    I'm extremely happy that Fox had the film given this much care.

    Best of all, they had the film restored ON FILM. I think it was mentioned that there is now a new restoration negative, several fine-grains and preservation masters, and of course, the restored Movietone score and Carl Davis' re-recording.

    Oddly enough...the cover photo is the same one I have in my signature photo, except it's mirror reversed.
     
  8. Matthew Furtek

    Matthew Furtek Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2001
    Messages:
    133
    Likes Received:
    0
    Let's say I was someone who just got interested in purchasing "Sunrise" on reading Ron's review. What other Studio Classics Titles come highly recommended? I'm a college student who has never had the oppurtunity to watch a silent film, but after seeing "Citizen Kane", I am not going to discount a film's merits based on the fact that it is a silent production.

    Any suggestions?

    Matthew Furtek
     
  9. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2002
    Messages:
    12,392
    Likes Received:
    460
    Location:
    Vermont
    Real Name:
    Malcolm
    It is mystifying that Fox would put such love and care into the restoration of this film, and include so many features and extras on the DVD, then not sell it at retail. All that effort just to give away for free a few copies to those who fill out the correct forms and paperwork?

    Oh, well. I expect to send in my forms this week so I can add this to my collection. [​IMG]
     
  10. Bob Pierce

    Bob Pierce Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2001
    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    0
    Sorry, did I miss something above? What's the procedure for getting this title? Do I have to buy the three titles directly from Fox, is there a coupon I need to download, etc.? Please post any helpful URLs. I'm very interested in seeing this disc.

    Thanks,

    - Bob P.

    P.S. Great review, Ron, and thanks once again to clueing me in to a film I otherwise would have missed!
     
  11. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2002
    Messages:
    12,392
    Likes Received:
    460
    Location:
    Vermont
    Real Name:
    Malcolm
    Bob,

    You need to purchase three Fox Studio Classics in 2003 to get "Sunrise" by mail. You can buy from any retailer. The certificates for "Sunrise" are enclosed in each title. Eligible titles are:
    • All About Eve (out now)
    • Gentleman's Agreement (out now)
    • How Green Was My Valley (out now)
    • An Affair to Remember (out now)
    • The Day the Earth Stood Still (out 3/4/03)
    • The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (out 4/1/03)
    • Love is a Many Splendored Thing (out 5/6/03)
    • The Grapes of Wrath (out 6/6/03)
    • Anastasia (out 7/1/03)
    • The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (out 8/5/03)
    • Titanic (out 9/2/03)
    • The Mark of Zorro (out 10/7/03)
    • Laura (out 11/4/03)
    • The Ox-Bow Incident (out 12/2/03)

    You need to mail in the original mail-in certificate (in the cases of the above titles), the proof of purchase tabs from the three titles, and the original store receipt(s) showing date of purchase of the three titles.

    Best Buy seems to be selling the titles for $14.99 each. I got mine at Costco for $12.99 each.

    Offer expires January 31, 2004.
     
  12. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2002
    Messages:
    7,632
    Likes Received:
    1
    Matthew Furtek

    I would highly recommend The Iron Horse, although it is r2 and a silent western directed by John Ford. It is my opinion that Sergio Leone based his Once Upon A Time in the West on.

    for more info

    http://www.bfi.org.uk/search/htsearc...rict=&exclude=

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2001
    Messages:
    8,174
    Likes Received:
    1
    I am the fartherst thing away from a silent film fan, and I have been watching news and any tidbits regarding Sunrise with a keen eye.

    I had no desire whatsoever to go out of my way to get this title nor make any efforts to rent it either through local stores (they don't have it) or getting it through NetFlix.

    And considering the Fox Studio Classics line, I might've gotten this through the free mail offer when I was going to buy three titles. That's only if I made the effort.

    Then two things happened.

    1. I saw Nosferatu.
    - Like I said, if there's one thing of film I don't make an effort to see, it's a silent film. But then I saw this horror classic on TCM, and I couldn't resist passing it up. In short, I was truly amazed by the film. After having seen Shadow of the Vampire, I was very eager to seeing my first F.W. Murnau film. I'm glad I did. Sure I could throw out some half-baked analysis of German Expressionism and early film art, but I'll just leave it at "I liked it!" [​IMG]

    2. Ronald Epstein's reviews
    - This isn't meant to offend anybody, but I have a hard time listening to "extreme film afficionados" that praise films that aren't exactly my cup of tea (eg. extreme art-house). But as far as reviewers are concerned, the type of films I like are close to those of Ronald Epstein's. So when I see that he highly recommends Sunrise, I can't help but think this might be worth my effort.

    So there you have it. I've reconsidered my decision, and have decided to purchase three discs and try Sunrise.
     
  14. TimSniffin

    TimSniffin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    0
    Once the offer expires January 31, 2003, does this mean the Sunrise DVD will become available retail?
     
  15. Evan Case

    Evan Case Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2000
    Messages:
    1,113
    Likes Received:
    0
    This is, in my mind, one of the ten greatest films ever made.

    But there is only one other Fox Classic I'd have bought anyway (Grapes of Wrath) and of the two others I'd most feel like purchasing to complete the "deal", one isn't even available until December.

    I'm extremely pleased Fox has made this DVD. I'm considerably less so that I'll have to purchase some titles I'm not interested in to have the film in a reasonable timeframe. This is compounded by my income-less college student status, but even if I had a job I'd still be miffed by the principle.

    Oh well, I'll scrounge up the extra $45-$60 somewhere. Sunrise is too tempting a title for me to pass up.

    (BTW, thanks for the fine review, Ron. I had no idea Fox was going to put so much extra effort into this title!)

    Evan
     
  16. Jefferson

    Jefferson Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2002
    Messages:
    979
    Likes Received:
    20
    I'm very vocal about loving the "silents", so this is wonderful news.
    Gorgeous film.[​IMG]
     
  17. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2002
    Messages:
    7,960
    Likes Received:
    841
    Location:
    North Hollywood, CA
    Real Name:
    Brandon Conway
     
  18. BrianP

    BrianP Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 1999
    Messages:
    601
    Likes Received:
    0
    I already purchased the first three Fox classics and sent in for the Sunrise DVD offer a few weeks ago. Can't wait until it arrives.
     
  19. SteveP

    SteveP Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2001
    Messages:
    274
    Likes Received:
    0
    SUNRISE predates the forming of Twentieth Century-Fox by about eight years, being produced by William Fox's production company, which merged with Twentieth Century Pictures in 1934 or '35 to create the new company.
     
  20. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 1998
    Messages:
    28,150
    Likes Received:
    3,859
    Location:
    Michigan
    Real Name:
    Robert

    Ron already knows that fact which is why he mentioned William Fox as being the one that brought Murnau to the States which was before the Twentieth Century merger with Schenck and Zanuck. Ronbo put today's studio name in his review so that people can connect how the studio has evolved from it's beginnings.





    Crawdaddy
     

Share This Page