Now that nuptial bliss has faded into nuptial routine, it's time to watch movies again. And it starts with Paul Fejos' winning 1928 city-symphony romance, Lonesome. A marvel of the late silent period, it depicts New York City as both dehumanizing and filled with wonder, achieved with densely layered superimpositions. The opening parallel editing sequence, which cuts between the two leads, Barbara Kent and Glenn Tryon ,preparing to go to work, starts as physical comedy (Kent daintily primps while Tryon, late, flings about with mad energy) and ends as mechanized mayhem, as Fejos layers the images of their day job exertions over an image of a clock, until both protags are deliriously exhausted - but also irrevocably linked visually. Then they both independently decide to head to Coney Island, after being depressed by their lovey-dovey friends. This is where the film truly takes off, with beautiful hand-colored shots of the amusement park, and frames teeming with ticker tape (look at that photo!), carnies, and tentative bits of seduction between the two leads.
The immediate comparison is with F.W. Murnau's Sunrise (1927), another film that deals with the dehumanizing as well as magical aspects of the industrialized city. I won't put Lonesome on as high a level as that supreme masterpiece, but it deserves to be seen. The main drawback to the film is the insertion of a few sound sequences. The film is a ravishing visual experience that grinds to a halt when the camera gets nailed down and the mics turn on. The rhythm is lost and it takes a while for it to rev up again. The emotional impact, at least for me, was staunched by a sniggering crowd at Film Forum intent upon proving their superiority to a film so unabashedly in love with love. Their loss, which unfortunately distracted me as well. Alas.
The director, Paul Fejos, is a fascinating character, a Hungarian emigre and M.D. who fell into the movie business for a while, and then fell in love with anthropology (he turned to ethnographic filmmaking) becoming the director of Anthropological Resarch at the Wenner-Gren institute.
Oh, and to be honest, the nuptial bliss is still blissful.