Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1926), a film by F. W. Murnau, is an adaption from the short story Die Reise nach Tilsit, written by Hermann Sudermann. Vertigo (1958) is a psychological thriller that shook the world audience with the enormity of shock and the cinematic excellence of Alfred Hitchcock, the stalwart director. Both the films are similar as well as dissimilar in some respects. It is intriguing to look into the commonalities of theme of love in the films and how the two artworks differ in their outlook toward life.
Both the films, though directed in different times, have certain similar characteristics. The two directors have endeavored to make an expedition to the intricacies of human nature and emotions in both the films. While Sunrise shows the unnamed husband plotting the cold-blooded murder of his wife, Vertigo finally reveals that all the while Judy had posed as Madeleine as an accomplice of Gavin and had lied and betrayed Scottie. However, in both the films, the male protagonists go gaga over their ladylove. The unnamed husband in Sunshine is overcome by his superego and understands his mistake only to be incessantly expressing his apology to the pained and scared wife. He traverses a long way from their native land to the busy streets of the city only to win over his wife’s heart. He offers token of his love and reiterates the vows of an eternity of togetherness. In Vertigo too, Scottie is madly in love with Madeleine and cannot think of a life without her. On her death, for which he blames himself and is psychologically affected, Scottie goes around all the places he had spent time with her and even visualizes her often. He simply cannot get over her and is on a hopeless pursuit to win back his love—even from the brutal clutches of inevitable death. On meeting Judy, he is persistent in his requests for a dinner together and finds himself madly in love with her owing to her startling resemblance with Madeleine. Both the films show the persistent pursuit of the lover in search of love, for which they embark upon a journey. Also, both the women finally give in to the grit and amorous advances of the males. Both the films portray the forgiving nature of love. While the wife forgives her husband for his betrayal, Scottie too forgives Judy for her lies. Love transcends every other emotion, logic. It triumphs over the tender and brings in the sunshine.
However, the two films are dissimilar in their treatment of the outcomes of love. In Sunshine, the married couple reconciles and goes back to the peaceful life back home. The lady from the city descends into very lake she had intended to see the wife to get drowned. The temporal distraction, the lady signifying the evil is wiped out to portray the sunrise in the final scene, signifying the new beginning for the married couple. In Vertigo, Judy falls off the tower and meets her demise to the utter shock and trauma of Scottie. Scottie’s pursuit is finally shrouded in futility and one can only apprehend the oblivion and trauma that awaits him. Thus, while Sunshine has an optimistic outlook toward love, Vertigo essentially portrays the pessimism and fatalism that bounds us.
The two films, noted artworks that have adorned the history of cinema are similar and yet dissimilar to each other in their theme, portraiture, exploration and final outlook. The films present the audience with the spheres of life which define human nature.
Sunrise:A Song of Two Humans. Dir. Murnau, F.W. Writ. Sundermann, Mayer, 1927. Film
Vertigo. Dir. Hitchcock, Alfred. Writ. Coppel, Alec, 1958. Film