Well, I did it. I finally received 100 followers! When I started 18 Cinema Lane last February, I never thought I would achieve this many followers in such a short amount of time! So, I’d like to say thank you to every single person who has chosen to follow my blog. If it weren’t for you, I never would have reached this milestone so soon. You’re probably thinking that it would be nearly impossible to find a movie that was released 100 years ago, in 1919. But, surprisingly, I ended up finding a movie on Turner Classic Movies’ (TCM’s) schedule. It’s a movie titled Sunnyside, which was directed, written, produced, composed by and starred Charlie Chaplin. In my Wild Oranges review, I mentioned that the only other silent film I’d seen was The Kid. By reviewing Sunnyside, it means that this is not only the third silent film I’ve seen, it’s also the second Charlie Chaplin picture that I’ve seen. When I recorded this movie on my DVR, I was shocked to discover that the film itself was less than an hour long. But, since Sunnyside is considered a short film, I realized that this run-time actually made sense. So, let the sunshine come pouring into your heart, as we’re about to begin this review of Sunnyside!
Things I liked about the film:
- The comedy: Out of the two films of Charlie Chaplin’s that I’ve seen, it seems like Charlie’s cinematic work is known for being humorous. Because Sunnyside is a silent film, the creative team behind this movie had to rely on physical comedy, such as silly behaviors and actions, to make the audience laugh. This style of comedy was executed well in the film! While this form of comedy was more simplistic, I felt like it was effective! One such example is when Charlie’s character brings a cow into his house and milks it on the spot just so he can put milk in his beverage. The incorporation of humor helped make Sunnyside an interesting film!
- The music: As I’ve mentioned in the introduction, Charlie Chaplin composed the music in Sunnyside. It felt like Charlie put a good amount of thought into the type of music that was incorporated into the film. Throughout the movie, I noticed that the overarching music matched the mood of whatever scene it was featured in. Whenever the scene was humorous, light-hearted music could be heard. If the scene had a more serious tone, dramatic music was placed over the on-screen events. This aspect of the movie provided a sense of understanding to what was happening in the story!
- The use of title cards: In my review of Wild Oranges, I talked about the importance of title cards within the film. Just like that movie, Sunnyside also used title cards to their full advantage. These title cards were, sometimes, placed at the beginning of each scene. This helped introduce locations and characters to the audience. Title cards were also used to provide dialogue between some of the characters. It assisted the audience in helping them figure out what was going on within the narrative.
What I didn’t like about the film:
- Some scenes lasting longer than others: Throughout Sunnyside, I noticed that some of the scenes lasted longer than others. One example is the opening scene, when Charlie’s character wakes up in the morning. For scenes like this, I felt that they were as long as they were just to satisfy the film’s run-time. In my opinion, these specific scenes could have been cut to a shorter length.
- A simplistic story: The main plot of Sunnyside was more on the simpler side. Because of this, it caused the first half of the movie to appear as a series of vignettes. The story didn’t seem to have a cohesive narrative until the character called “City Chap” showed up in the film. It made the film like it was an experiment of how to make a movie.
- A drowned out piano: In Sunnyside, there was one scene where Charlie’s character is playing the piano. However, when he did play the piano, the instrument’s sound was drowned out by the overarching music featured in that scene. I understand that the cinematic technology of 1919 was vastly different than what it is today. But I think the sound of the piano should have been omitted from this film. That way, the only sound that the audience should focus on is the music that helps highlight the mood of that scene.
My overall impression:
As I’ve said in my Wild Oranges review, I don’t often watch movies in the silent film genre. However, because Sunnyside was the only film from 1919 that I was able to find, I decided to give the movie the chance. I’m glad I did, as this ended up being a good film! Because this was a short film and because, for the most part, I was able to understand what was going on in the narrative, I didn’t have a need to provide my own commentary to the film. It is interesting to see how movies have evolved over these 100 years. Seeing what’s changed and what’s remained the same in cinema is fascinating. This makes me appreciate the earlier projects of film, including Sunnyside.
Overall score: 7.6 out of 10
Do you watch silent films? Have you seen any of Charlie Chaplin’s movies? Let me know in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!