Before Sunrise (1995)

Brief Intro

Before Sunrise is a 1995 romantic drama film directed by Richard Linklater. It follows Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy), who meet on a train in Europe and spend an enchanting night together in Vienna. The movie is renowned for its naturalistic dialogue, introspective themes, and its unique approach to the fleeting, profound connections between people.

Literary Devices Used in Before Sunrise


Movie SceneDevice Example
Café ConversationJesse and Céline’s deep, philosophical discussions reveal their worldviews and personalities.
Ferris Wheel SceneTheir conversation turns intimate, highlighting their emotional vulnerabilities.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Ferris Wheel SceneThe Ferris wheel symbolizes the ups and downs of life and relationships.
Sunrise SceneThe rising sun symbolizes the beginning of a new day and the ephemeral nature of their encounter.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Train SceneJesse’s suggestion to spend the day together hints at the transient nature of their relationship.
Phone Call SceneDiscussions about their future hint at their upcoming separation.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Record Store SceneThe vinyl record spinning is a metaphor for the cyclical nature of life and love.
Graveyard SceneThe graves symbolize the permanence of memory versus the impermanence of life.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Café Fortune TellerThe fortune teller’s vague predictions ironically come true in subtle ways throughout the film.
Train Station GoodbyeThey promise to meet again, but it’s clear they might never see each other again.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Train Station SceneThe hustle and bustle of the station contrasts with the quiet, intimate moments shared by Jesse and Céline.
Night WalkThe serene nighttime streets of Vienna juxtapose their lively, heartfelt conversations.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Listening Booth SceneMusic as a recurring motif underscores their emotional connection.
Park Bench SceneSitting and talking in various locations highlights their journey and developing bond.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Sunset SceneVivid descriptions of the sunset enhance the romantic atmosphere.
Vienna Night StreetsDescriptive imagery of Vienna at night adds to the film’s enchanting mood.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Cemetery SceneReferences to famous poets and philosophers connect their dialogue to larger existential themes.
Ferris Wheel SceneAllusions to classic romantic films deepen the sense of timeless romance.

Pathetic Fallacy

Movie SceneDevice Example
Train SceneThe gentle motion of the train parallels their budding relationship.
Sunrise SceneThe dawning sun reflects the awakening of their feelings for each other.

Character Analysis Through Literary Devices


Literary DeviceExplanation
DialogueJesse’s philosophical musings reveal his cynicism and search for meaning.
SymbolismHis constant movement symbolizes his fear of commitment and stability.


Literary DeviceExplanation
DialogueCéline’s introspective dialogue reveals her romantic and idealistic nature.
MetaphorHer connection with nature and art reflects her deep emotional intelligence.

Character Dynamics

JuxtapositionJesse’s cynicism contrasts with Céline’s idealism, driving the narrative and their character growth.
MotifRecurrent motifs like walking and talking underscore their evolving relationship.

Thematic Analysis

Love and Connection

Literary DeviceExplanation
DialogueTheir conversations delve into the nature of love and human connection.
SymbolismThe city of Vienna symbolizes a temporary yet impactful meeting place for their love.

Time and Impermanence

Literary DeviceExplanation
ForeshadowingTheir discussions about the future hint at the fleeting nature of their time together.
ImageryDescriptive scenes of day turning to night and night to day highlight the passage of time.


Literary DeviceExplanation
MetaphorThe journey through Vienna represents their journey of self-discovery.
JuxtapositionTheir differing perspectives highlight their individual paths to understanding themselves.

Cinematic Techniques That Enhance Literary Devices

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
DialogueLong TakesThe use of extended shots allows the dialogue to flow naturally, emphasizing authenticity.
SymbolismVisual CompositionThe framing of scenes (e.g., Ferris wheel) visually represents symbolic elements.
ForeshadowingSound DesignSubtle sound cues and music foreshadow future events and emotional beats.
MetaphorVisual MetaphorsVisual parallels (e.g., spinning records) enhance metaphorical meaning.

Key Scene Analysis

Scene 1: Ferris Wheel

Scene 2: Train Station Goodbye

  • YouTube Link
  • Breakdown: This scene combines irony and foreshadowing, highlighting the bittersweet nature of their farewell and the uncertainty of their future.

Scene 3: Listening Booth


Interactive Quiz

  1. Which literary device is prominently used in the Ferris wheel scene?
  2. What does the city of Vienna symbolize in the film?
    • A) Love and Connection
    • B) Time and Impermanence
    • C) Self-Discovery
  3. Which cinematic technique is used to enhance the dialogue?
    • A) Sound Design
    • B) Long Takes
    • C) Visual Metaphors