The idea for the movie came from a night Richard Linklater spent walking around Philadelphia with Amy, a woman he met. Contrary to the movie, they stayed in touch for a while, until contact was lost. Linklater never heard from her again, not even when he became a director and Before Sunrise (1995) was released. It was not until 2010 that he found out that Amy had died in a traffic accident before the release of the first film in the trilogy.
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Richard Linklater left out subtitles but in the opening sequence, the couple on the train is actually arguing in German. The man is reading in his newspaper how 70,000 women are addicted to alcohol. The script translated the squabble as follows: "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.
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Unlike Before Sunrise (1995), which did not credit the screenwriting contributions of Hawke and Delpy, the two stars received writing credits for the sequels, and as a result, were nominated for two WGA awards and two Oscars.
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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, 'Okay, that I would get off the train for.'"
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Most of the script was re-written by Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke. Delpy later expressed frustration that they were uncredited for their work.
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The screenplay was written in eleven days.
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[Linklater when asked about improvisation in Before Sunrise (1995)]: "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."
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When Richard Linklater first considered casting Ethan Hawke, he thought that the actor was too young for the part. Linklater saw Hawke at a play in New York City and reconsidered after talking to the actor.
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Before Sunrise (1995) only grossed $5 million domestically which is extremely low. However, adjusted for inflation, it becomes the highest-grossing film of the Before trilogy at $10.5 million. While the films were not in high demand at the box office, Linklater, Hawke and Delpy all wanted to make a sequel and did so with Before Sunset (2004)
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In the scene where Jesse complains about fortune tellers never telling the truth, he quotes almost exactly from a scene in the book "The Circus of Dr. Lao" by Charles G. Finney. In the book, the philosopher and theurgist Appollonius of Tyana tells a widow that her next day and the day after will be exactly the same as the day before, "a tedious collection of hours". (Page 81, Grey Walls Press edition)
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Numerous references to James Joyce's novel "Ulysses" can be found in "Before Sunrise." Both take place on June 16th, running into the early hours of June 17th. Both involve a journey around a single city (Dublin/Vienna) and include a visit to a graveyard. Jesse's real name is James (Joyce's first name) and, like Joyce, he spent a long time wandering around the cities of Europe instead of going home.
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Richard Linklater spent nine months casting the film because he saw so many people but had trouble finding the right actors for the roles of Jesse and Céline.
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The film takes place from June 16 to June 17, 1994.
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Before Sunrise (1995) was the first of 10 collaborations between Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater. Three years after this film, Hawke starred in Linklater's The Newton Boys (1998), along fellow Linklater collaborator Matthew McConaughey. Other Linklater films in which he had roles in include Tape (2001), Fast Food Nation (2006), and Boyhood (2014). Linklater actually appeared in Hawke's feature directorial debut, Chelsea Walls (2001), and Hawke's second feature-film as a director, The Hottest State (2006).
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Another reference to James Joyce is that while at university he translated a play by the German writer Gerhart Hauptmann - its title, Vor Sonnenaufgang, or Before Sunrise.
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In Linklater's first rotoscoped (a type of animation) movie, Waking Life (2001), Jesse and Celine appear in bed together and have a dreamy, cerebral Sunrise-esque conversation.
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The Ferris wheel Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy ride in Vienna is the same one used in The Third Man (1949) and The Living Daylights (1987).
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Richard Linklater is a fan of American singer Kath Bloom, so he used one of her songs, "Come Here" in Before Sunrise (1995). This is the record Jesse and Celine are listening to in the booth. The attention Bloom received from the movie inspired her to release new albums, including 1999's "Come Here: The Florida Years".
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June 16th is also the day James Joyce met his life partner Nora Barnacle. He managed to talk her into running away with him to Paris, which is where the sequel Before Sunset (2004) is set.
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In the first scene, Julie Delpy is reading Madame Edwarda/Le Mort/Histoire de l'oeil by Georges Bataille and Ethan Hawke is reading All I need is Love by Klaus Kinski.
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The film had its world premiere at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival.
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When Jesse quotes W.H. Auden's poem "As I Walked out One Evening," he skips over one stanza about time watching from the shadows and coughing when one would kiss.
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At the end of the film it is revealed that Jesse and Celine met on June 16th. This is the same date as in James Joyce's "Ulysses," which follows Leopold Bloom around Dublin for one day. June 16th is celebrated as "Bloomsday."
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The landscape and houses seen on the train ride at the beginning of the movie are not typical for the region the train on the route from Budapest to Vienna goes through. Those are probably shots of more western alpine regions of Austria.
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This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #857.
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Originally, in the screenplay, who the two people were and the city they spend time in was vague.
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The pinball machine they play at the night club is a "Spaceriders" (Atari).
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During a conversation about their first sexual feelings, Jesse explains to Celine that he had an "obsessive relationship with Miss July 1978," and then refers to the playmate as "Crystal." The name of Miss July 1978 was actually Karen Morton, not someone named Crystal.
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The film takes place on June 16, Bloomsday.
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Adam Goldberg: guy asleep on the train in the opening sequence.
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[Linklater on Jesse and Celine seeing each other again]: "I always said that the movie was a litmus test for how you view romance," he 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.
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