The Love of Sunya (1927)

Article #1084 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-3-2004
Posting Date: 7-31-2004
Directed by Albert Parker
Featuring Gloria Swanson, John Boles, Pauline Garon

A woman wishing to marry the man she loves discovers that her father is in debt. Her duty towards her father tempts her into considering alternative choices that would get her father out of debt. She is then visited by a mystic who offers her a chance to look into a crystal ball to see the results of her choices.

This interesting silent drama has two fantastic aspects; first of all, there is the use of the crystal balls to foresee the possible futures, and secondly there is a backstory in which we discover that the mystic was once a priest in ancient Egypt who wrongs a woman unto death, and who now lives under a curse to expiate his sin by finding the woman’s reincarnation and atoning for his sin. Outside of bringing the theme of destiny into the story at an early point, the latter subplot has very little impact on the story as a whole; it could have been omitted without really damaging the story. The basic story and the final moral are both pretty simple, and in some ways everything that happens is a fait accompli, but it’s well acted (particularly from Gloria Swanson as the torn Sunya) and has some very well-directed sequences, including a clever scene at a dinner table which focuses only on the movements of hands. It strains credibility at one point when the story heaps so much undeserved misery and degradation on one character that it almost becomes laughable, but shortly after that it features a revelation that manages to not only put this exaggeration in an understandable context, but also short circuits one of the fantastic aspects of the tale. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting movie, and it’s always entertaining to see Gloria Swanson at her best.


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