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15 Facts About Before Sunrise

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columbia pictures

In 1995, when a baby-faced Jesse (Ethan Hawke) talked a charming French girl named Celine (Julie Delpy) into spending the night meandering through Vienna with him while discussing love and death, the audience had no idea the star-crossed lovers’ 12-hour romance would blossom into almost 20 years and three films. At the end of Sunrise, the couple agrees to meet again at the exact same train station six months later. Would they really reunite? It took nine more years for fans to find out, but Celine, Jesse, and director Richard Linklater rejoined for two more films: 2004’s Before Sunset and 2013’s Before Midnight, where we find out Jesse and Celine sort of lived happily ever after. Here are some things you might not have known about the original film. 

1. IN THE OPENING TRAIN SEQUENCE, THE ARGUING COUPLE ACCUSES EACH OTHER OF BEING ALCOHOLICS.

Linklater left out subtitles, so unless you’re fluent in German, you’re not going to understand their fiery exchange. Luckily, the script translates the quarrel. The man reads in his newspaper how 70,000 women are addicted to alcohol. “You’re one of them,” he says to his wife. She volleys back, saying he’s the alcoholic. “I have a reason to do it. I’m married to you!” he retorts.

2. THE RECORD CELINE AND JESSE LISTEN TO IN THE LISTENING BOOTH IS “COME HERE” BY AMERICAN SINGER KATH BLOOM.

Linklater was a fan of Bloom’s, so he used her song in the movie. The attention Bloom received from the movie inspired her to release new albums, including 1999’s Come Here: The Florida Years.

3. LINKLATER, HAWKE, AND DELPY KNEW CELINE AND JESSE WOULD SEE EACH OTHER AGAIN.  

“I always said that the movie was a litmus test for how you view romance,” Linklater told The New York Times in 2004. “Some people would go: ‘It’s so clear. They will never get back together.’ People were so sure.” He said the viewer’s interpretation depends on their romantic history. Apparently Delpy, Linklater, and Hawke are romantics—they knew Celine and Jesse would come back together.  

4. CELINE AND JESSE SHOW UP IN LINKLATER’S WAKING LIFE.

In Linklater’s first rotoscoped (a type of animation) movie, Jesse and Celine appear in bed together and have a dreamy, cerebral Sunrise-esque conversation.

5. THE MOVIE TAKES PLACE ON BLOOMSDAY

Every June 16 in Dublin and other cities worldwide, people celebrate James Joyce’s Ulysses; the events in the book take place on June 16, 1904. The Joyce references don’t end there: Jesse’s real name just happens to be James.

6. THE MOVIE FEATURES CAMEOS FROM LINKLATER, ADAM GOLDBERG, AND THE FILM’S EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, JOHN SLOSS.

Goldberg, who previously worked with Linklater in Dazed and Confused, is the guy asleep on the train in the opening sequence. Fun fact: Goldberg and Delpy later dated and starred together in 2 Days in Paris, which Delpy also wrote and directed. Linklater has a Hitchcockian-like cameo in the Arena bar scene, where he plays foosball and wears a Shonen Knife T-shirt—a prolific Japanese band that released their 19th record last year. Finally, producer John Sloss, who would go on to work with Linklater on the rest of the Before films and also Boyhood, plays the complaining American in Café Sperl, the scene of Celine and Jesse’s faux telephone conversation.

7. THIS WAS THE FIRST OF 10 COLLABORATIONS BETWEEN HAWKE AND LINKLATER.

Hawke and Delpy continued working with Linklater on the Before sequels and Waking Life, but Hawke was the only one of the pair who continued to act in Linklater movies where he wasn’t a part of Jesse and Celine. Three years after Sunrise, Hawke starred in Linklater’s The Newton Boys, along with Linklater’s other muse Matthew McConaughey. Hawke also has roles in Tape, Fast Food Nation, and last year’s Boyhood.  Linklater appears in Hawke’s feature directorial debut, Chelsea Walls, and Hawke’s second feature as a director, The Hottest State.

8. JESSE MENTIONS THE WRONG MISS JULY PLAYBOY PLAYMATE.

During a conversation about the first sexual feelings he had growing up, Jesse explains to Celine that he had an “obsessive relationship with Miss July 1978,” and then refers to the playmate as “Crystal.” Well, Miss July 1978 was actually Karen Morton, not someone named Crystal. Miss July passed away a year ago.

9. DESPITE THE NATURALISTIC DIALOGUE, NONE OF THE SUNRISE FILMS ARE IMPROVISED.

In a 2013 Reddit Ask Me Anything session, Linklater talked about “non-acting acting.” “It’s a compliment when people think it’s [the Sunrise trilogy] improvised, but I don’t think anyone could ever understand how much work it is for them [Delpy and Hawke].” Delpy also explained the lack of improvisation. “The truth of these movies is, they are tediously rehearsed, every detail planned, every overlapping line scripted,” she told the Chicago Tribune in 2013. “It’s so precise that it’s almost a joke when people think we are acting off the cuff.”

10. THE ACTORS HAD A DIFFICULT TIME COMING UP WITH A REASON WHY CELINE WOULD GET OFF THE TRAIN WITH JESSE.

In 2012, Hawke told The Guardian he and Delpy performed “controlled improvs” about what Jesse could say to convince her to come with him. Delpy mentioned Celine would only get off the train for someone who was funny and smart. “We finally came up with this idea that I was a time traveler, Hawke said. She was like, ‘OK, that I would get off the train for.’”

11. BEFORE SUNRISE HAD TWO FEMALE WRITERS —KIM KRIZAN AND JULIE DELPY—BUT THE SCRIPT HAD A GENDERLESS VOICE.

Linklater told The Guardian in 2013 that Dazed and Confused “had been commandeered more by a male voice. There was such testosterone and that’s where my head was at.” He didn’t want to play favorites to one sex over the other, which is one reason why the on-going collaboration between Hawke, Delpy, and him worked so well. “Ethan and I do have this feminist side, and I think Julie has a very strong male side, so that’s the way it works: Ethan writes plenty of Julie’s dialogue, Julie writes for Ethan, and I’m the swing vote.”

12. HAWKE, LINKLATER, AND DELPY JOKED BEFORE SUNRISE WAS THE LOWEST-GROSSING FILM OF ALL TIME TO GARNER A SEQUEL, BUT THAT’S INACCURATE.

Sunrise only grossed $5 million domestically (but with inflation, it becomes the highest-grossing of the trilogy, with $10.5 million), but it got a sequel—even though no one but them wanted one. There are actually several franchises with much lower grosses that received sequels, including the V/H/S horror films.

13. A SAD ORIGIN STORY INSPIRED THE MOVIE.

In 1997, Linklater told The Morning Call that Sunrise was based on a real-life 1989 encounter he had with a woman in Philadelphia, but it wasn’t until 2013 when a Chicago Tribune article further revealed the true story: Her name was Amy Lehrhaupt, and unbeknownst to Linklater, she died in 1994, before he began filming Sunrise. Before Midnight is dedicated to her.

14. DELPY AND HAWKE WEREN’T CREDITED AS SCREENWRITERS.

They contributed to the script as much as Linklater did, but weren’t credited because “screenwriting guild rules gave authorship to the originators.” But, Hawke and Delpy did receive writing credits for the sequels, and as a result, they got nominated for two WGA awards and two Oscars.  

15. DELPY INTIMIDATED HAWKE.

In a recent Reddit AMA interview, Hawke was asked: If the Sunrise trilogy came out as a Criterion Collection, what bonuses would he like to see? “My hope is to finally get to see my screen test with Julie, you know?” he told the fan. “I’ve never even seen that. And I remember it because if you want to meet an intimidating 23 year old [sic] woman, Julie Delpy is certainly one of the most intimidating I’ve ever met. But I’d love to see our audition together, you know?”

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Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
The 10 Wildest Movie Plot Twists
Laura Harring in Mulholland Drive (2001)
Laura Harring in Mulholland Drive (2001)
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

An ending often makes or breaks a movie. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as having the rug pulled out from under you, particularly in a thriller. But too many flicks that try to shock can’t stick the landing—they’re outlandish and illogical, or signal where the plot is headed. Not all of these films are entirely successful, but they have one important attribute in common: From the classic to the cultishly beloved, they involve hard-to-predict twists that really do blow viewers’ minds, then linger there for days, if not life. (Warning: Massive spoilers below.)

1. PSYCHO (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock often constructed his movies like neat games that manipulated the audience. The Master of Suspense delved headfirst into horror with Psycho, which follows a secretary (Janet Leigh) who sneaks off with $40,000 and hides in a motel. The ensuing jolt depends on Leigh’s fame at the time: No one expected the ostensible star and protagonist to die in a gory (for the time) shower butchering only a third of the way into the running time. Hitchcock outdid that feat with the last-act revelation that Anthony Perkins’s supremely creepy Norman Bates is embodying his dead mother.

2. PLANET OF THE APES (1968)

No, not the botched Tim Burton remake that tweaked the original movie’s famous reveal in a way that left everyone scratching their heads. The Charlton Heston-starring sci-fi gem continues to stupefy anyone who comes into its orbit. Heston, of course, plays an astronaut who travels to a strange land where advanced apes lord over human slaves. It becomes clear once he finds the decrepit remains of the Statue of Liberty that he’s in fact on a future Earth. The anti-violence message, especially during the political tumult of 1968, shook people up as much as the time warp.

3. DEEP RED (1975)

It’s not rare for a horror movie to flip the script when it comes to unmasking its killer, but it’s much rarer that such a film causes a viewer to question their own perception of the world around them. Such is the case for Deep Red, Italian director Dario Argento’s (Suspiria) slasher masterpiece. A pianist living in Rome (David Hemmings) comes upon the murder of a woman in her apartment and teams up with a female reporter to find the person responsible. Argento’s whodunit is filled to the brim with gorgeous photography, ghastly sights, and delirious twists. But best of all is the final sequence, in which the pianist retraces his steps to discover that the killer had been hiding in plain sight all along. Rewind to the beginning and you’ll discover that you caught an unknowing glimpse, too.

4. SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983)

Sleepaway Camp is notorious among horror fans for a number of reasons: the bizarre, stilted acting and dialogue; hilariously amateurish special effects; and ‘80s-to-their-core fashions. But it’s best known for the mind-bending ending, which—full disclosure—reads as possibly transphobic today, though it’s really hard to say what writer-director Robert Hiltzik had in mind. Years after a boating accident that leaves one of two siblings dead, Angela is raised by her aunt and sent to a summer camp with her cousin, where a killer wreaks havoc. In the lurid climax, we see that moody Angela is not only the murderer—she’s actually a boy. Her aunt, who always wanted a daughter, raised her as if she were her late brother. The final animalistic shot prompts as many gasps as cackles.

5. THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995)

The Usual Suspects has left everyone who watches it breathless by the time they get to the fakeout conclusion. Roger "Verbal" Kint (Kevin Spacey), a criminal with cerebral palsy, regales an interrogator in the stories of his exploits with a band of fellow crooks, seen in flashback. Hovering over this is the mysterious villainous figure Keyser Söze. It’s not until Verbal leaves and jumps into a car that customs agent David Kujan realizes that the man fabricated details, tricking the law and the viewer into his fake reality, and is in fact the fabled Söze.

6. PRIMAL FEAR (1996)

No courtroom movie can surpass Primal Fear’s discombobulating effect. Richard Gere’s defense attorney becomes strongly convinced that his altar boy client Aaron (Edward Norton) didn’t commit the murder of an archbishop with which he’s charged. The meek, stuttering Aaron has sudden violent outbursts in which he becomes "Roy" and is diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, leading to a not guilty ruling. Gere’s lawyer visits Aaron about the news, and as he’s leaving, a wonderfully maniacal Norton reveals that he faked the multiple personalities.

7. FIGHT CLUB (1999)

Edward Norton is no stranger to taking on extremely disparate personalities in his roles, from Primal Fear to American History X. The unassuming actor can quickly turn vicious, which led to ideal casting for Fight Club, director David Fincher’s adaptation of the Chuck Palahniuk novel. Fincher cleverly keeps the audience in the dark about the connections between Norton’s timid, unnamed narrator and Brad Pitt’s hunky, aggressive Tyler Durden. After the two start the titular bruising group, the plot significantly increases the stakes, with the club turning into a sort of anarchist terrorist organization. The narrator eventually comes to grips with the fact that he is Tyler and has caused all the destruction around him.

8. THE SIXTH SENSE (1999)

Early in his career, M. Night Shyamalan was frequently (perhaps a little too frequently) compared to Hitchcock for his ability to ratchet up tension while misdirecting his audience. He hasn’t always earned stellar reviews since, but The Sixth Sense remains deservedly legendary for its final twist. At the end of the ghost story, in which little Haley Joel Osment can see dead people, it turns out that the psychologist (Bruce Willis) who’s been working with the boy is no longer living himself, the result of a gunshot wound witnessed in the opening sequence.

9. THE OTHERS (2001)

The Sixth Sense’s climax was spooky, but not nearly as unnerving as Nicole Kidman’s similarly themed ghost movie The Others, released just a couple years later. Kidman gives a superb performance in the elegantly styled film from the Spanish writer-director Alejandro Amenábar, playing a mother in a country house after World War II protecting her photosensitive children from light and, eventually, dead spirits occupying the place. Only by the end does it become clear that she’s in denial about the fact that she’s a ghost, having killed her children in a psychotic break before committing suicide. It’s a bleak capper to a genuinely haunting yarn.

10. MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001)

David Lynch’s surrealist movies may follow dream logic, but that doesn’t mean their plots can’t be readily discerned. Mulholland Drive is his most striking work precisely because, in spite of its more wacko moments, it adds up to a coherent, tragic story. The mystery starts innocently enough with the dark-haired Rita (Laura Elena Harring) waking up with amnesia from a car accident in Los Angeles and piecing together her identity alongside the plucky aspiring actress Betty (Naomi Watts). It takes a blue box to unlock the secret that Betty is in fact Diane, who is in love with and envious of Camilla (also played by Harring) and has concocted a fantasy version of their lives. The real Diane arranges for Camilla to be killed, leading to her intense guilt and suicide. Only Lynch can go from Nancy Drew to nihilism so swiftly and deftly.

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iStock
Hollywood's 5 Favorite Movie Villains
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iStock

Movie villains are meant to bring out the best in a hero, but with the right script, director, and performer in place, these bad guys can sometimes steal the show from their clean-cut rivals.

Take any horror movie, for example—chances are you’re not watching Friday the 13th to root for the absentminded teenagers down at Camp Crystal Lake. And Steven Spielberg certainly didn’t become a household name by directing a shark movie titled Three Guys on a Boat Drinking Narragansett.

The Hollywood Reporter set out to celebrate these iconic agents of evil by surveying 1000 professionals in the entertainment industry (directors, producers, entertainment attorneys, etc.) on their favorite movie villains. A rogues' gallery of murderous AI, mafia bosses, and a diabolical fashion magazine editor all made the top 25 list as the worst of the worst, and while they’re all deserving, the top five are the gold standard. They include:

5. Nurse Ratched: Played by Louise Fletcher in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
4. The Joker: Played by Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight (2008)
3. The Wicked Witch of the West: Played by Margaret Hamilton in The Wizard of Oz (1939)
2. Hannibal Lecter: Played by Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Hannibal (2001), and Red Dragon (2002)
1. Darth Vader: Played by David Prowse and James Earl Jones in the Star Wars movies (Prowse 1977-1983, Jones 1977-present)

That top spot might not come as a surprise to most, unless you’re still in your twenties: According to The Hollywood Reporter, survey respondents in that age group put Darth Vader in the sixth spot—behind Regina George from Mean Girls.

To check out the entire list, head to The Hollywood Reporter.

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