Top positive review
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Fantastic film, breathtaking transfer
on 13 July 2010
City Girl, a film often overshadowed by F.W. Murnau's earlier silent masterpiece, 'Sunrise', is a brilliant film and really deserves a full re-evaluation. Happily, this stunning transfer by the Masters of Cinema series, allows just that.
City Girl was released in 1930, just as the silent film began to fall into rapid decline with the advent of the 'talkies'. However, by this time Murnau really was a master of his craft, having cut his teeth with 1922's eerie 'Nosferatu', by the time he released 'Sunrise' six years later he had cemented his position as one of the world's most important (not to mention successful) filmakers. It was also, tragically, his penultimate film, as he was to die in a car crash the following year. Comparisons with 'Sunrise', then, are unfair, as Murnau wanted to create a different kind of film here.
The story is a simple one. A farmer's son, Lem, is sent to the city to sell the families' harvest of wheat. Whilst on his eye-opening business trip, he meets Kate, a cafe worker. A wonderful sequence ensures, resulting in the girl being taken back to the farm with Lem as his wife. However, Lem's uncompromising father is deeply suspicious of this city girl, and the film follows Kate's attempts to become accepted by the father. The early interchanges between Kate and Lem are beautiful, and the scene with them playfully running through the wheatfields ahead of meeting Lem's family is one of the purest, happiest scenes ever committed to film.
This film is a great starting point for anyone interested in silent cinema - there are title cards throughout, and with a fantastic soundtrack recorded in 2008, it is easy to forget you are watching a film 80 years old. The 1080p transfer by Masters of Cinema is truly breathtaking, I guarantee that only a few years ago no one would have ever imagined a film of this vintage could look so good. The image is clear and vivid, and really does give the impression of playing the original nitrate film through a projector, so stunningly sharp is the picture. Words can't do it justice - this really should be seen to be believed. It's no wonder Eureka Entertainment decided not to release this on DVD, the Blu-ray is that good. The menus continue the theme of quality, depicting a number of stills from the film. As far as extras go, there is a fantastic commentary by David Kalat, who obviously knows the subject inside out. Though I thought this would be a very dry commentary, I was pleasantly surprised - this interesting and informative commentary provides detail on everything you would want to know about the film. There is also a booklet inside, containing essays and some stills from the film.
If you are already a fan of silent film, you will undoubtedly know of Murnau, and the quality of both the film and the transfer are both high enough for me to unreservedly recommend this title. If, however, you are new to silent cinema, this is an excellent place to start, and this release really does breath new life into this vintage classic.