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61 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible restoration of a seminal classic, 23 Sep 2009
By 
D. Moloney (Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sunrise [Masters of Cinema] [Blu-ray] [1927] (Blu-ray)
As a relatively new fan of Silent films, I had not yet seen the Murnau classic Sunrise.
I held off purchasing the DVD when I heard the news that Eureka were going to release the film on Blu-ray.
It was worth the wait.

Sunrise : A song of two humans comes in two flavours on this single blu-ray disc edition with the Movietone version and the Czech version both included. There are also several extras and a nice little booklet with some artwork and text pertaining to the restoration and other aspects of the effort to bring this seminal classic to the world once more in what certainly is the definitive release of this title.

F.W Murnau was a genius filmamker who incorporated incredible detail into all of his films. Favoured by William Fox, he was given alot of freedom to make movies as he wanted them to be. At this point in 1927, Silent films were a dying medium due to the introduction of talkies or sound films.
But one could also say that Sunrise is a good example of how far film had come after nearly 40 years of development, especially at a time when sound was set to further evolve the medium.

The plot is a simple story about love and betrayal. I won't spoil any of it.
But needless to say the performances are wonderful. Janet Gaynor puts in a bravura performance as the betrayed wife while George O' Brien plays his role as the husband with exceptional expressionism.
Though more typical of the late 20's productions, grand, vast locations are featured throughout such as in the city, at a fairground and in huge dinner dance halls filled with hundreds of people. So many people of the era are captured on film. The social history element here makes this an attractive purchase for researchers and historians.
All of the intricate details of the fashion trends, buildings and vehicles of the era are on display.

My main purpose for writing the review is to rave about the image quality.
Eureka have achieved a world's first here, this was the first silent available on blu-ray and one of the oldest films available in high definition.
I must reiterate, this is a genuine 1080p transfer of both versions of the film and the results are jaw dropping.
Never before have the 1920's been seen in such detail and clarity. It's a truly unique experience to watch this, it's like time travel.
For the first time a silent can be viewed in image quality that rates up there with very good 1960's prints and we can see this resolution at home now thanks to Blu-ray.
Shots taken at a fairground and in the cities radiate with defined lines.
The faces of the actors and people can be seen so clearly as to feel like you had seen them in person.
The studio say they have not used HD-DVNR and it shows. No softness, just beautiful black and white clarity.

Watching this 24fps AVC 1080p transfer is a treat and I will definitely put it on again and again.
If you have a blu ray player and love Cinema, buy this, you will not regret it.
Own a piece of Cinema history while also supporting this endeavour.
I hope to see many more BD releases focusing on the Silent Era.
Well done to Eureka entertainment for a fine job in getting this project together.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the eureka! 3 disc blu-ray dvd combo version IS region FREE, 6 Sep 2013
By 
Paul Shikata (toronto, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
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i had almost had a heart attack after quickly unwrapping the blu-ray only to look at the back and notice the label stating blu-ray REGION B and dvd REGION 2 ..... only to recall making sure it WAS region free using dvdbeaver as the reference ......

so i nervously checked if the dvds and the blu-ray would play on my REGION A/1 player and whew ! yes they do.

so don't worry about what this amazon.co.uk page states .... as it reflects the labelling on the blu-ray combo case. but make sure it's the THREE disc version.

what a wonderful package.

check the many wonderful reviews here for details regarding the films themselves!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could the Czech version be definitive?, 24 April 2013
By 
A. Holliday (Adelaide Australia) - See all my reviews
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There's a heading that will get me into trouble!

There are two versions on the Masters of Cinema release - the well known US print and a silent version (the Czech version). The US version is around 90 minutes long while the silent version is around 80. Few will disagree that the silent version has the better picture (by far) but the general view is that the familiar US print is the better and definitive version. I'm not so sure.

It is true that the Czech version uses alternate takes and sometimes has different edits, but most of what is missing is a few frames here and there, rather than entire sequences. And many of these alternate takes are actually better than those in the US version (compare the husband buying and almost forgetting to buy flowers for his wife in the silent version to the US print for example; the silent version is a better take). And some of the (very few) missing bits are better left missing - in general the more obvious and corny moments have been discarded but none of the scenes and moments of genuine feeling are absent (I am wondering if this was deliberate (that these were insertions rather than omissions), for the US market, in much the same way Fox insisted some comedy be inserted for audiences that they thought would be unhappy with the heavy and depressing opening act - at least that's what the commentary tells us). Furthermore, it is unarguable that the screen ratio is better in the silent one (the US print is narrower than normal to make way for an analogue soundtrack down the left side. Makes me wonder just which version (European) Murnau thought was the 'real' one. We may have been watching the wrong one all these years! There is no documentation to tell us one way or the other.

After watching the film a number of times over many years, I've come to the conclusion that the silent cut is the better film (even though it lacks the animated intertitles). When you've seen it (perhaps several times) see what you think...
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Playable in Canada and US, 16 Feb 2010
By 
Andrew Dykstra (Toronto, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sunrise [Masters of Cinema] [Blu-ray] [1927] (Blu-ray)
This movie is a masterpiece of late silent films made for Fox Film Company (later Twentieth-Century-Fox) by master filmmaker, F. W. Murnau.

This Blu-Ray is a revelation. I saw the "Movietone" version (included here) when it was released in Canada and the US as a standard DVD a couple of years ago. The recently discovered Czech print (also included in this package)is vastly superior. Because the original reel for this version did not include space for a soundtrack, the whole width is dedicated to a much wider picture.

I am not waiting for Twentieth Century-Fox video in North America to release this. This version plays perfectly well on my Blu-Ray player. This must be a region-free disk.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Silent Cinema's Last (And Mightiest) Gasp., 22 Sep 2009
By 
Brady Orme (Edgbaston, England) - See all my reviews
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At certain times in Cinema's long and varied history, films have appeared that aren't just genius for their own sake, but also herald in a new epoch. Films like Jolson's "The Jazz Singer" heralded in the age of dialogue (and okay, it wasn't a very GOOD film as such), Darren Aronofsky's "Pi" introduced the use of the Snorricam, and so on. Less attention is given to those films that find themselves at the tail-end of such an era. F.W. Murnau's first Hollywood production, "Sunrise : A Song Of Two Humans" is one of those, and can almost be said to be the Swan-Song of epic Silent Cinema, along with films such as "Ashphalt" and "Pandora's Box". And wow, what a Swan-Song it is. Lush, abstract, stylised, a film that sees German Impressionism crash with the Hollywood machine in all it's mangled glory. It's no surprise that the film was nominated for a number of awards at the very first Oscars in 1928 - Hell, it should have swept the board.

Dealing in a story that shys away from specifics, "The Man" (George O'Brien) and "The Woman" (Janet Gaynor) are married, unhappily it seems as "The Man" wishes to elope with "The Woman From The City" (Margaret Livingston) and murder "The Woman" in the process. Attempting to do so whilst together on a boat, "The Man" cannot bring himself to do it after recollecting his once passionate Love for his wife... The rekindle their Love after a day in the eponymous city, and tragically his wife dies on the way back via the boat. Enraged with fury at his mistress (rather misguidedly I thought) he attempts to kill her, but stops short after news that his wife has been found alive quells his ire. All rather basic, but what sets! and what expressions O'Brien and Gaynor bring to a film minus dialogue! "Sunrise" displays exactly why Silent Film died a death at the end of the '20s... Technology aside, after this film it had reached it's apex, there was nowhere else to go but down. Murnau tried to keep his favoured medium going with the partially-silent "Tabu" for instance, but it was too late, audiences had moved on.

So masterful film aside, what you have your grubby mitts on when purchasing this is the World's first Blu-Ray Silent Film. Thanks to Masters of Cinema you have the fully-restored film in true 1080p glory - and that's not all, aside from the well-know Movietone version, a newly discovered print from the Czech Republic has been included here. Many shots are different (in the '20s directors tended to shoot scenes with multiple cameras to create multiple prints - hence the differing angles. MoC included two versions of Murnau's "Faust" in the same manner) and in some ways the Czech print is better preserved. "Sunrise" then - if you consider yourself a film buff, this is one film you have to book repeat viewings of.... No excuses.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sunrise - though the sun has possibly set on cinema., 24 Nov 2009
Love like an opera, i don't mean with songs, but for a silent film the music is pretty integral. I mean opera as in brechtian, like the difference between reality and truth.. big ideas sure, i can't really grasp them when other people talk about them, because most theorists make it all too complicated. Realism is a reliance on how the world looks and acts aesthetically. Truth is how the world is, with truth it doesnt matter if people fly or animals talk or any number of unrealistic events happen, because it has a 'truth'.

Sunrise has a truth, and it condenses reality, makes life move faster, is totally aware that it is a film, reveals itself as scenes, as snippets of life, and is possibly the most perfect silent film i've ever seen. Admittedly i have just watched it, and so am biased, i'm still on a high from it. But this is the 3rd time i've seen it and i feel stronger about it upon each viewing. It'll last like all great art does.

Directed by F W Murnau, 1927.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Song of Two Humans, 4 May 2012
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sunrise [Masters of Cinema] [Blu-ray] [1927] (Blu-ray)
Some films become instant classics. Others are not so lucky. 'As cold as the marble a sculptor uses', 'the sort of picture that fools highbrows into hollering Art', 'there is a not a heart-throb in Sunrise,' 'Mr Murnau's film is more than technically competent but woefully ignorant of matters of the heart.' There were good reviews too, more for it's ambitious technique than it's other merits, but Sunrise was generally regarded as a disappointment on its first release. It was quickly overshadowed at the box-office by Janet Gaynor's following film for Frank Borzage, Seventh Heaven and left a shadow over F.W. Murnau's Hollywood career, only finding an audience many years after his death and assuming its position as one of the great achievements of silent cinema many years after his death.

In many ways, Sunrise is the last great masterpiece of German Expressionist cinema. The cast and the studio may have been American, but those behind the camera were almost exclusively German (cult director Edgar G. Ulmer, who many years later would delve deeper into film noir with Detour, was one of the assistant art directors), having a notable effect on the look and feel of the film. There is little in contemporary American cinema to compare with it save King Vidor's less experimental but emotionally similar The Crowd.

At the time, Murnau was the hottest of the German Expressionist filmmakers, due to the international success of Nosferatu and, in particular, The Last Laugh. He was eventually wooed to Hollywood by William Fox, who put all the resources of his studio at his disposal. Surrounding himself with his favourite collaborators, most notably cinematographer Karl Struss and screenwriter Carl Mayer, he built massive sets and constantly reshot scenes in his quest for perfection. Expectations were high, and were bound to be disappointed.

Many felt the story, based on Herman Sudermann's novel The Journey to Tilsit, too slight: a farmer (George O'Brien) is persuaded by a woman from the city to drown his wife and run off to the city with her, but finds himself unable to do it and falls back in love with his wife (Janet Gaynor), only for her to fall overboard in a storm. Indeed, it has often been argued - especially by some the films admirers - that the plot is merely an excuse for Murnau's visual experimentation, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Both characters and narrative have an unpatronising simplicity that is completely involving. Set against the contrasting worlds of the country and the city, the design is striking only in that the film is almost entirely studio shot: both the city and the funfair were in fact false forced perspective sets, as was the swamp. There is certainly a real sense of a world existing beyond the requirements of the plot, but Murnau uses them to ensure his total control of all the elements and does not linger on them unduly, keeping the focus firmly on the characters throughout, never giving in to spectacle purely for spectacle's sake.

Murnau's use of the camera is truly remarkable, with a look and composition that remains unique to this day, but his visual approach is in the service of the emotions, building a cumulative effect that has few parallels. The husband's shadow appearing at the window to signal to his mistress or the camera following the woman's footprints in the mud, even the shadows of the trees against the white farmhouse wall in daylight create an oppressive atmosphere in the first third that adds to the joy and despair that follow. Yet, where one of the key criticisms of the expressionists has always been their relentless pessimism, Murnau belies this with the sheer fun of the central city sequence. There's a lot of humour in the film, be it George O'Brien chasing a drunken piglet in a ballroom, Arthur Housman's lech putting moves on Gaynor in the barbershop or Eddie Boland repeatedly rearranging the strap's of a woman's dress.

As what was intended as a murder becomes a second honeymoon, the film does not give in to cheap sentiment but instead has a real feeling for the everyday, simple pleasures. When the couple respond to the barbershop manager's entreaty to 'Come again soon' by inviting him to visit them someday, the film does not condescend to either party. He takes it as much of a compliment as they intended it. Indeed, considering its early appearance as a motive for murder, everyone they meet in the city is remarkably benign as if the city were bringing them back together to make a liar of the woman of the city and her motives.

The film is filled with ambitious visual effects: images of a bright shining city of light and motion are conjured up out of a swamp in stark contrast to the funereal atmosphere of his farm; a ghostly image of the woman is superimposed over the tormented farmer as he makes up his mind to kill his wife; and when crossing a city street with his wife, it fades away to reveal an idyllic countryside that is only shattered when they realise that their passionate embrace is literally stopping the traffic. Yet the most powerful effects are the emotional ones.

The primary problem with any romance has always been the language. How to convey the growing closeness between two people which transcends the limitations of the dialogue? Murnau simply dispenses with it altogether and just gives us pure, undiluted emotions in action.

There are surprisingly few titles, those there are resonating throughout the film, often being repeated to bracket key shots. The film is a fundamentally visual experience. We don't need to hear or know what O'Brien and Gaynor are saying - we feel it through the way they respond to each other, the way the distance and mistrust is gradually, painfully lessened as they move back together. Even in their cathartic moments in their reconciliation - his inability to kill her and his breakdown in the church when they watch a wedding - more than just the mere essentials are expressed through body language. Their actions and reactions speak far more eloquently than any dialogue ever could.

O'Brien's performance is predominately insular for much of the film, a man withdrawn into himself both physically and mentally, his reactions veering towards (but only at the end giving way to) violence, his posture almost simian as his humanity has been sapped away. With Gaynor the transformation is one from hope to realisation, but with O'Brien it is much more dramatic, almost a complete rebirth as he rediscovers his passion for his wife and for life itself. There's a real sense of, almost childlike, joy to him in the funfair sequence that makes you understand why Gaynor held on to him so long after the bad times came.

But the film belongs to Gaynor in a stunning performance that is one of the miracles of the silent cinema, indeed is one of the most remarkable pieces of screen acting in film history. She understands how to work to the camera, but is never 'working' it. It isn't a display of technique but an embodiment of the heart, remarkably natural and unaffected but very affecting: you don't merely observe her feelings, you share them.

Witness the expectation and disappointment in her face as O'Brien ties up the dog that has followed them into the boat. Her look conveys the memories, joys and disappointments of an entire marriage in a few seconds. Or the way that while he cannot stand to look at her, avoiding all eye contact, she tries to playfully move into his line of vision, only for the smile to fade tragically from her face. Later, when they are reconciled, as she watches him in the barbershop, the way she worries what his response will be to an attractive young manicurist is a delight to watch.

At first, their performances are stylistically at odds, as with the early scene crosscutting his wife's joy at what she thinks is reconciliation with his torment over her forthcoming murder, but it's not a selfish performance on Gaynor's part. As the film progresses, she seems to be willing the life back into him, so that when she is lost in the storm there is a real feeling that it is not only her life that has been lost but his as well.

Much has been made of the almost musical construction of his films, and it is very much a symphony in three movements: the opening section on the farm, the idyllic episode in the city, and the storm sequence and it's aftermath. But, if anything, Sunrise is ultimately a journey towards the light. The narrative begins in darkness and an oppressive mood of emotional frustration and, while the director had reputedly at one time planned a darker ending, it ends with a resurrection and the birth of a new day sweeping away the shadows of the old. In most films this would seem a cliche. Here it provides a fitting end to one of the most profoundly emotional experiences in all cinema.

Eureka's all-region BluRay offers a fine selection of extras to compliment the film too - not only all the extras from Fox's Region 1 DVD (outtakes from the film, choice of alternate soundtracks, audio commentary by cinematographer John Bailey and a documentary on Murnau's lost followup, Four Devils) but also the fairly recently rediscovered shorter alternate Czech version of the film!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!, 29 Oct 2013
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This 1927 film is a magnificent achievement, a rollercoaster of emotion, and beautifully done. What impressed me was the way Murnau lets the camera linger in emotional scenes, instead of hurrying on, as a moderbn director would. The story is allowed space to breathe. Also impressive is the use of static and moving camera, always beautifully judged. One characteristic of this director is the way he suggests a world outside the frame of the picture: a character will enter the picture from the bottom right of the frame, for example. Thus a bigger world is suggested than what you actually see. There are many memorable scenes: for example, the long walk of the city girl early on,or the later scene in the cafe. One could name many more such scenes: Murnau's touch throughout is assured.

One of the extras included is a commentary by a cimematographer, which gives fascinating insights.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb blu-ray treatment of a magnificent film, 31 May 2013
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Some consider it the finest silent film ever made. It is on my top five favorite films of all times. Janet Gaynor deservedly won the very first Best Actress Oscar. While the alternate print might be a bit superior it does leave out scenes that one who has seen the film a lot miss but happy both included. Many thanks for this wonderful blu-ray release.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sunrise, 11 May 2013
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A truly fascinating and enjoyable movie. Some great cinematography, period shots and wonderful acting. A must in any film buff's collection.
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Sunrise [Masters of Cinema] [Blu-ray] [1927]
Sunrise [Masters of Cinema] [Blu-ray] [1927] by F. W. Murnau (Blu-ray - 2009)
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