DVD Rating: ***1/2

Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown

Read Anton Bitel's film review of Sunrise

Eureka Video's Region 2 DVD set of Sunrise comes on two discs, the first featuring the film with a choice of three audio tracks, the second an extensive array of supplemental materials.

Given its vintage, that the original print is no longer extant and the restoration work undertaken, Sunrise probably looks as good here as it has done for close on 70 years. The film is framed in its original 1.20:1 aspect ratio and, while necessarily bearing the marks of age, places no barriers to one's appreciation of the cinematography and design.

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The new alternate score and original Movietone music and ambience track provide a nice contrast, the latter giving the authentic experience and the former something for those who cannot bear its snap, crackle and pop.

The commentary track from John Bailey is knowledgeable, but necessarily somewhat dry, if one is not interested in the technical details of Schufftan process shots and the like. Aspiring cineastes will lap it up, however.

The Extras kick off with two essays. The first, by Janet Bergstrom, runs 40 minutes and examines The Four Devils, using stills, productions photographs and other documents to reconstruct the now lost film, a melodrama set in the world of the circus that, in sharp contrast to its predecessor, saw considerable studio interference. The second, by R Dixon Smith, runs 10 minutes and looks once more at Sunrise, arguing that the film can best be understood as a German-American production that stands as a highpoint of the late silent film whose sophistication and complexities were to soon become a lost art.

The essays are followed by a selection of outtakes - deleted scenes in a 80-year-old film must be something of a first - with optional commentary and text, which I was unfortunately unable to access on my DVD player for some reason, and the original theatrical trailer, a fascinating example of film advertising discourse circa 1927.

Notes on the film's restoration - also explaining the Movietone sound-on-film process - a gallery of half-a-dozen stills and annotated and illustrated screenplays for both Sunrise and The Four Devils in computer-readable DVD-ROM format round off the disc.

All told, an impressive DVD package.

Reviewed on: 23 Feb 2004
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A man is seduced by a flapper who wants him to murder his wife.
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Anton Bitel: DVD

Product Code: EKA40066

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.20 original aspect ratio

Sound: Original Movietone mono, new Dolby Digital stereo

Extras: Documentary by film historian R Dixon Smith; commentary by cinematographer John Bailey; outtakes with optional commentary; original scenario with F W Murnau

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