The Use of the Parrallel Shot in 'Sunsrise A Song of Two Humans' (1927)

Director F.W. Murnau has chosen to use parallel shots as a technique to cue the audience to anticipate action, feel sympathy and other emotions; to read greater meaning from the shot. Murnau achieves this by controlling the function of lighting, composition, and performance to direct attention to elements of mise-en-scene. O'Brien's performance is stylised but retains a sense of realism even 80 years after the film was released; his loss is felt by the audience who know what choices he's made. The shot is constructed to show a turning point in the plot and the character's development. At the start of the narrative he desired to be free of his wife (by drowning her) and at the end of the narrative his wish came true, despite his best efforts to prevent it. In the one shot my understanding of what 'Sunrise' is about is visually conveyed by the image of 'The Man' kneeling before the shadow of the cross cast on his wife's bed; a symbol of her goodness, and a bitter reminder that he did not cherish what he had until it was gone.

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