Dawn Silent Cinema Rerun of the cycle "Melodrama and the star system"

Dawn

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Manuel Hidalgo

Sunrise (Amanecer, USA, 1927), by F. W. Murnau, featuring Janet Gaynor and George O'Brien. (90 minutes)

Presentation: Manuel Hidalgo

Sunrise was the first film shot by the German F.W. Murnau en Hollywood, where he adapted a novel  by Hermann Sudermann, and had Janet Gaynor and George O´Brien starring. A combination of drama and comedy, realism and symbolism, it showed through virtuous camera movements and a great poetic breath the evolution of an unfaithful husband, from a triangular relationship to the "sunrise" of his love conscience, in the framework of a storm.

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It is not an hyperbole to assert that Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927) is one of the sistine chapels of the seventh art, and that F.W. Murnau, its director, is one of the greatest filmmakers in the History of Cinema. Knowing Sunrise already is a great luck, but being able to watch it for the first time is an enviable privilege, an epiphany. Murnau left his eternal stamp in other masterpieces of the German expressionism like Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922) and Der Letzte Mann (1924) -a merely silent film without intertitles- when he was summoned by Hollywood to display his talent with theoretical freedom. Sunrise was the amazing response. Based on a tale, it narrates the drama of a married man who, seduced by the charms of a fatal woman, feels obliged to kill his wife, but with a disturbing feeling of culpability and doubts.

Few basic arguments are really new, and this one is not either. But at a good length, the prodigy of Sunrise lies in the scenery and the visual narrative, full of formal audacity and, at the same time, filled by a transparent classical beauty, owing to the pictorial iconographies, and destined to be remembered. The frames, the movement of the camera, the multiple expositions, the sound effects -although it is a silent film-, and the intentional use of the intertitles, are some of the virtues that the historian point out as dazzling. The less important part is that it obtained three Oscars, although in opposition, its commercial trajectory was poor. What is important is that Murnau -who passed  away four years later in a car accident- achieved a work that moves, produces aesthetic pleasure, thrills, questions, and remains as an inexcusable reference.

Manuel Hidalgo

  1. Manuel HidalgoManuel Hidalgo

    Periodista, columnista, novelista, crítico y guionista de cine. Licenciado en Ciencias de la Información por la Universidad de Navarra, ha dirigido programas de televisión y trabajado como guionista en las películas La mujer del prójimo (1988) de José Fonseca e Costa, Una mujer bajo la lluvia (1992) de Gerardo Vera, El portero (2000) de Gonzalo Suárez, por la que fue nominado al Premio Goya al mejor guion adaptado, y Grandes ocasiones (1998), Nubes de verano (2004) y Mujeres en el parque (2006), las tres del director Felipe Vega.

    Ha escrito ensayos sobre cine: El último austrohúngaro: conversaciones con Berlanga (1981), Carlos Saura (1981), Fernando Fernán Gómez (1981), Francisco Rabal: un caso bastante excepcional (1985), Pablo G. del Amo, montador de sueños (1987), El testigo indiscreto (2005), El Cid: mátalo tú (el amor) (2006) y El banquete de los genios. Un homenaje a Luis Buñuel (2013, 2019).

    Es además autor de relatos y novelas, entre estos: El pecador impecable, Todos vosotros, Azucena, que juega al tenis, La infanta baila, Días de agosto, El hombre Malo estaba allíCuentos pendientes, Otro finalLo que el aire mueve, por la que obtuvo el Premio Logroño de Novela. Como periodista, ha desarrollado su carrera en Fotogramas, Diario 16 y, desde su fundación, en el diario El Mundo, donde fue director adjunto de Opinión.

    Es miembro de la Academia de las Artes y Ciencias Cinematográficas de España y de la European Film Academy. En 2014 fue reconocido con el VI Premio Francisco de Javier otorgado por el Gobierno de Navarra. Sus últimos libros son el ensayo El lugar de uno mismo (2017, con ilustraciones de Daniel Hidalgo), el libro de entrevistas Pensar en España (2018) y el homenaje a Pío Baroja, Del balneario al monasterio (2018).