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Monday, June 16, 2008

Sunrise on Friday

posted by on June 16 at 11:46 AM


I’ve been as good as unconscious all weekend, due to the nasty cold that’s circulating, but I wanted to write one last SIFF post about the showing of F.W. Murnau’s Sunrise at the Triple Door on Friday. The Album Leaf, who Eric Grandy interviewed here, performed a new score for the movie.

Sunrise is amazing—one of the greatest movies of all time, and one of the first to really, completely understand what can and can’t be done in a movie. That’s about all that I can say about it without going over the top like user Dario P on IMDB:

I have no words. This is cinema. This is not a story, this is not a plot. This is THE STORY, this is THE PLOT…This film holds the tragedy and the comedy, the laughing and the crying. “Sunrise” doesn’t belong to the past, but It belongs to the story, to the time. Sunrise, yes…the sunrise of the modern cinema waiting for “Citizen Kane”.

But I can talk about the Album Leaf’s score. At first, I was unsure; for the first twenty minutes all the band really managed to do with their guitars and keyboards and drums was create an ambient kind of hum that didn’t interact with the movie at all. But as the plot (or THE PLOT, depending on who you ask) ratcheted up, so did the score. There were moments of perfect conversation between the band and the screen, where actions were imitated with music, and it was perfectly lovely. There were echoes, too, from the screen down to the band and back up to the screen, where action became sound became action again.

As the movie drew to a close, too, and the ambient hum returned, the whole piece of music really operated as a complete musical work. I have my doubts if it functioned exceedingly well as a score—the first twenty minutes had maybe too much of a disconnect between the music and the movie—but if the Album Leaf ever performs this one again, you should definitely attend. It was a perfect ending for my SIFF experience.

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sunrise is the most compelling silent film i've ever seen. it's spare, clean, simple, and short on the period affectations that often make silent films comic and dated to modern audiences.

Posted by ellarosa | June 16, 2008 12:26 PM

This was an amazing experience at the Triple Door, and the orchestration they chose to go with Sunrise was perfect.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 16, 2008 12:34 PM

Did anyone see Lambchop perform their score to Sunrise a few years back? I saw the premiere of it at the SF Int'l Film Fest, and while I didn't think they came up with the definitive score (the songs with lyrics didn't quite work), some of the musical interludes they came up with worked really well. Based on your description it sounds like the Album Leaf went in a different direction.

Posted by Mr_Friendly | June 16, 2008 12:49 PM

Good call, Constant. That is one superior film.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | June 16, 2008 1:14 PM

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