Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (F.W. Murnau, 1927)

George O'Brien, Janet Gaynor, Margaret Livingston

An allegorical tale about a man fighting the good and evil within him. Both sides are made flesh - one a sophisticated woman he is attracted to and the other his wife.

It’s pointless, I suppose, to consider whether a story is idealised or sentimental, or whether acting is exaggerated and not naturalistic, when it is a question of Expressionismus, as in Sunrise. Not that the film is German: it was made in Amerika, after Murnau came to Hollywood the year before. It is now regarded as one of the greatest of all films, and indeed, watching the film with a cinematographer’s commentary (which I did for the first fifteen minutes) it is clear that it is bold, experimental, idiosyncratic, stylish. I was bored with the story because the ideology is laid bare in the first half hour, after which there is only further instantiation. And because of the aforesaid melodramatic acting—which I know is not relevant to the value of the film - but it is to my enjoyment of it.

Won one of the first Best Film Oscars.

Garry Gillard | reviews | New: 1 March, 2017 | Now: 13 October, 2018