Eye For Film >> Movies >> Sunrise (1927) DVD Review
Reviewed by: Anton BitelRead Anton Bitel's film review of Sunrise
For a film so old and with no surviving master print, it is both inevitable and perfectly acceptable that this newly restored high-definition pillarboxed transfer should retain some flaws and scratches, but there were also some more evitable digital artifacts in my copy.
The full audio commentary by cinematographer John Bailey focuses on the cinematography of Charles Rosher and especially Karl Struss, while also relating stories about the production, including the use of midgets and children in the background of the city scenes to maintain the false perspective of the sets, and making some pertinent points about the film's themes.
Outtakes (10min) can be viewed either with audio commentary from cinematographer John Bailey, or with explanatory intertitles. The footage, mostly of very poor quality, includes some full-length masters (that were later cut up), variant takes and the complete one-take tram sequence to the city (all filmed on a studio back lot). Also available (via DVD-ROM) in pdf format is the film's original "photoplay" script (150 pages).
Murnau's 4 Devils: Traces Of A Lost Film (40min) is a fascinating and impressively rigorous attempt by Janet Bergstrom to reconstruct the circus-set film that Murnau made for Fox immediately after Sunrise. By "an accident of fate", no print, nor indeed footage, of The Four Devils survives, but through a painstaking examination of the programme, intertitles, quotes from the script, blueprints of sets, publicity stills and drawings by the art director, Bergstrom pieces together what the film, and its four different endings, was like.
The excellent 40-page booklet that accompanies the DVD includes some rare production stills, notes by David Pierce on the film's restoration, generalist essays on the film by R. Dixon Smith and Lotte H. Eisner; an excerpt from Robin Wood's Sexual Politics and Narrative Fiction (1998) pointing up some of the film's structural flaws and arguing that the film reflects and reinforces a more general tendency of Western culture towards repression and idealization. It also includes an excerpt from Lucy Fischer's bfi study of Sunrise (1998), arguing that Murnau's treatment of the city/country opposition is far less simplistic than Robin Woods and others have suggested.Reviewed on: 03 Dec 2005