Sunrise Screen 8 articles

Sunrise

1927

Sunrise Poster
  • Fair and gentle, the wife is designated as the “daughter of day” in the remarkable shot where, in a sunlit courtyard, she throws grain to the chickens while her husband watches her from inside, through the doorframe. Associating darkness of hair with darkness of spirit, the vamp will remain . . . she who lives by night, thus explaining her striking resemblance to a cat in the shots where, in order to observe the man’s return, she places herself in the tree that overlooks the crossroads.

  • The aesthetics of Sunrise have a lot to do with painting, music and literature, brought together in a remarkably interactive way that suggests another utopian dream: a definition of cinema as the meeting point for all the other arts.

  • One of the most imaginative films ever made and probably the greatest ever made about love—but that makes it sound like homework. Murnau's SUNRISE is as much a discovery now as it was in 1927, if not a greater one, as it's no longer common for serious films to believe in universal experience... Murnau's compassion for the central couple seems ever-expanding: their every emotion seems to trigger some new stylistic innovation.

  • The journey of the terrified Wife and her pursuing spouse to a bustling city center is soon followed, in an unlikely melodramatic arc, by the renewal of their own love as they witness a church wedding. Murnau and his collaborators make all of it transcendent, and seriously adult in its use of symbols (like a crucial, Freudian bundle of bulrushes) and small gestures to tell a story of common people.

  • By showing no particular city, Murnau captures the essence of urban life; by depicting a generic love story, he conjures love in itself. Thus, from the wisp of a tale, he raises cinema to the heights of philosophical speculation—and, at the same time, renders palpable the joy of an unrivalled inventiveness, the miracle of the medium’s power.

  • Murnau’s unusually expressive camerawork creates an emotional inner life for the characters. US studio head William Fox brought Murnau to Hollywood from Germany after seeing his delirious German Expressionist drama The Last Laugh, which told its story without any intertitles. With Sunrise, Murnau’s mastery of image combined with the power and resources of Hollywood to create what many believe is the high-point of the silent cinema – a film whose enormous influence can be felt to this day.

  • There's scarcely a non-stunning frame in the entire movie—at one point, I gasped aloud at a simple shot of the Man and Woman being seated at a restaurant table, which looks like something Roy Andersson might have spent six months painstakingly designing and constructing. Masterful continuity editing is perfectly balanced with jawdropping long shots...

  • It's the dictionary definition of a classic film. It won the first ever Academy Award, has been placed on the National Registry, and was the first silent film put out on Blu-Ray. It routinely places in “Best Of” lists, it’s a picture whose artistry is intended to be accessible to mass audiences. It is conventionally beautiful, conventionally narrative, conventionally stirring. It needs no apologies or excuses, it’s just excellent in every way. But did you know it was a comedy?

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