Showing posts with label 'Sunset Song'. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 'Sunset Song'. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 2, 2017


Last week I watched "Sunset Song", one of the saddest movies I've seen recently. Directed by Terence Davies, the film is set in the period just before and during WWI on a farm in northeast Scotland. Chris Guthrie, a bright young girl's whose dreams of going to teachers college are shattered when, after her mother bears numerous children, she commits suicide and kills her two youngest twin boys when she discovers she's pregnant again.

When Chris is left with her father, a brutal man, and her older brother, Will, after relatives take the younger children to live with them, she gives up her dream of teachers college to care for the household. For minor infractions, John, the father, takes the horsewhip to Will, and Will finally saves enough money to leave the farm and marry. Chris is left alone with her father.

The mood is dark and somber throughout the movie, except for a brief interlude of happiness after John dies of a stroke, and Chris marries Ewan, an amiable young man who lives nearby. Ewan reluctantly volunteers for the Scots Guards after war is declared and goes off to training. When he comes home on leave before being shipped to fight in France, he's drunk and brutal with Chris in the sight of their young son. Chris does not understand what's happening with Ewan, but she stands up to him when he shows sings of becoming violent, like her father.

When Ewan turns brutal, which we learn later is from stress about going into the fight in which thousands upon thousands have already died, I thought, "Oh! I've seen this movie before," and I debated whether to continue watching a replay of Chris living with another violent man. I decided to go ahead, and the dark mood continued, till weak hope is offered toward the end of the film by Chris' oneness with the land.

The stunning cinematography, which redeems somewhat the sadness of the movie, is by Michael McDonough. Northeast Scotland is gorgeous, and McDonough takes full advantage as he moves the camera slowly and lingeringly on the beautiful scenes. Indoor scenes are poorly lighted, as were the farmhouses at the time, and the camera again moves slowly. The light and shade in certain scenes resembles lovely paintings, and I was grateful again for the lingering camera.

The soundtrack by Gast Waltzing is very much in tune with the sadness of the movie and deserves credit.

I was going to post the video of the trailer for the film, but I think it gives away too much. It's on YouTube if you'd like to see it.