Friday, February 28, 2014

261 of 1001 Movies: Daybreak (1933)

I don't think I've watched such a bleak movie, but if there was to be a movie that would be bleak then it would be a silent movie. Nothing was happy about the early 30's! Or at least not to anyone making movies then unless you were Charlie Chaplin. Daybreak is one of the earliest examples of how China would become prominent in the film scene with the Chinese silent film. What this movie does though is bring the worst of ideas to a girl who may have only lived the small time life.

Summary: Ling Ling is an innocent girl from a fishing village who is off to look for her cousin in the big city of Shanghai. Ling Ling discovers though that the way she was able to live in the fishing village may not be able the way she can live in a huge city full of evil. Ling Ling's life will undergo drastic change as she is raped, abducted into prostitution, but there is hope though for her life to still have escape as the revolution is gearing up, and she wants to become a part of it.

Acting: Now with most silent movies there is just over acting. It's the way it is. With this Chinese one though it seems the actors took a lot more thought into trying to act real, so there wasn't as much. Li-li-Li was actually a huge star in China during the silent movie age, and her movies struck a chord with audiences. There is something about her portrayal of Ling Ling that keeps this silent movie interesting, and well to be honest Ling Ling seems more easy to relate to even appearance wise, she is pretty, but looks real. There are an array of other actors, but there is no performance that sticks throughout the movie as the main actresses' does, and I don't even know that anyone is even in the movie long enough to hit home with the viewer.

Filming: Yu Sun does some very cool shots with his film. There are captures of the night life in the city that look fun and bright, and yet it contrast with the dark tone he is setting up by the impending rape of Ling Ling, and the brewing opposition happening in the country. The movie though is limited in obviously shots, and as you watch movies you begin to recognize a lot more shots that would make movies interesting to watch did't exist to a long time later. Like the way fight scenes were angled, varying close ups, and such didn't exist till later. Some of the transitions in this movie though were innovative.

Plot: Now for an hour and a half I think this movie is covered very well. I did feel it was too slow in some areas, but that might just be because I'm not a huge silent movie fan. There are flashbacks thrown in that can be a bit puzzling while watching like Ling Ling hanging out with her cousin in the fishing village. These come at varying moments like sometime around the rape. Also, if you're not into bleak movies then this can be a bit of a downer, but I think Ling Ling is meant to inspire instead.

Daybreak is a great piece of cinema. If you're interested in movies from that culture, and exploring it's history then this would be a early one to check out. There was a lot going on in the country as far as development and politics that many people are unaware of. Yu Sun also gets creative with the techniques in the movie and keeps it interesting.

Rating 6.5 of 10.

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