In 1927, the film “Aurora” (“Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans”, in the original), by FW Murnau, winner of three Oscars, already presented contemporary dramas, answering the following questions: “Why do men commit adultery?”, “Can a woman change a man?”, “How can we forgive those who have wronged us?”
The narrative begins with a provincial man ( George O’Brien) who lives in peace with his wife (Janet Gaynor) and daughter, a humble job on the farm, until he is seduced by a lover (Margaret Livingston) who awakens unexplored desires, especially the desire to live in the big city. , which leads him to despise his bucolic life.
The symbol of history is analogous to the temptation of Eden, which symbolizes the desire for greater aspirations, however unreal, which lead man to forget of the good things of the reality in which he lived. As the consequence of Adam’s sin is the cosmic imbalance, that of the adulterer is family disorder.
The provincial scenario, on the other hand, symbolizes the innocence of the character, which, in addition to the obvious, should not be confused with purity. Innocent is the one who does not know evil and is vulnerable to it, while pure is the one who knows evil but does not allow himself to be contaminated by it. Ignorance, in short, leads to childish curiosity and youthful levity. Man’s temptation is symbolized by the desire to go to the big city, which, in the film, represents the desire to be bigger than one is.
Where everything is released, nothing is released
Paradoxically, while a character imagines the metropolis as a space for entertainment and knowledge, the region is represented full of hurried and utilitarian people. They don’t even have free time to enjoy the freedoms of the capital, being more limited than those of the province, showing the contradiction of Hell: where everything is released, nothing is released.
But man is so seduced who goes to meet his lover at the full moon, in front of the lake, in a forest: the night symbolizes human exposure to his most secret desires; the lake, aspirations and dreams; the forest, mental confusion; the full moon, the height of emotions. Everything that contributes to the rejection of values and of one’s own personality.
Behold, the mistress asks him to kill his wife and sell the farm. The man hesitates, but surrenders given the promise of a new life in the city, and after receiving kisses, symbolizing how much passion obscures reason.
Which highlights that the protagonist never stops loving his wife, or his family, but he’s just out of his mind. Temptation changes his nature and causes him to exchange marital love for the lust for power. The lesson is that the life we don’t have seems more delightful than the one we have, because of the power of imagination, which projects ideals.
Sin as a vocational deviation
Why then do men cheat? For adultery is a way out of real life, dreaming of new possibilities, and away from tedious obligations. That’s why many adulterers never take their mistress. They want to live a dream moment, escape from their self and their circumstances.
This is the reason why some cheat even loving their wife, which is an imperfect love, of course, but still love . For betrayal does not destroy the former affection, it only puts it to sleep, just as it makes reality sleep. And, when man wakes up, comes remorse.
And how can we forgive those who have wronged us? Or how to differentiate true repentance from a lip-service apology?
First, we must consider that sins, even if they are not committed, are accompanied by wounds that can leave marks for the rest of life. A simple apology does not indicate complete contrition. Whoever asks for forgiveness needs to give guarantees that he has become stable. Therefore, there must be a strong disposition to acquire constancy in good habits and trust in the other.
In the film, the husband makes an examination of conscience and tries to rescue the meaning of life. As he let himself be carried away by a sophisticated lover, who represented an escape from his reality, his regret must emerge as a form of acceptance of the real, and with that from the appreciation of the essential: the protection of women against the evils of the world. , prudence to do good and fortitude to preserve the family.
What lies behind this is sin as a vocational deviation. What responsibility and depth is there in living for pleasures? Man’s energy and vitality are exhausted in this, and thus he loses his purpose.
Repentance and forgiveness
Re-establishing order takes place in a later scene, in which the couple goes to church and attends a wedding. The man cries for the symbol of the act. The bells ring as a reminder of mortality, and sacramental union comes with a promise to remain faithful for life. So the adulterated wife accepts forgiveness, and, moved, gives her husband a new chance.
The scene is totally different from a lip-service apology. People often speak nice words to avoid quarrels or to deceive themselves, pretending that sin is already behind them. However, in the film, husband and wife find a hospital in the Church to cure each other of guilt and resentment, to abandon passions, rectifying their character.
Soon after, the couple enjoy themselves. in the city, as a way of recovering the intimacy and joy of married life. The scene shows that married life also requires fun, along with responsibilities, when it’s time to return by boat.
But there is a storm and they are shipwrecked. The woman is said to be dead, by the irony of fate, since this was her intention—to drown her—before repentance. The scene shows that – in possession of reason – our vain amusements are desolate.
However, the woman is found floating in the river, tied to wood, the same that the husband had planned to use to kill her. there. Here is a true representation of forgiveness: we can use it to destroy or to build.