Monday, May 20, 2013

Movie of the Week – Sunrise

This week’s movie: Sunrise (1927).

A married farmer is bored with his mundane country life, enchanted by dreams of a life in the city. He falls under the spell of a loose city girl, who at first seems exciting and new. However, things take a dark turn when she convinces him to drown his wife so they can be together.

Sunrise is brilliant German director F.W. Murnau’s masterpiece. He also made the great silent films Nosferatu, The Last Laugh, and Faust. Murnau worked with cinematographers Charles Rosher and Karl Struss (whose photography is wonderfully moody, winning an Oscar) and art director Rochus Gliese. Many of the superimpositions were created ‘in the camera’ by film being double exposed (which requires incredible planning and precision). The film was produced by William Fox, who formed what is now known as 20th Century Fox.

George O’Brien and Janet Gaynor star, while Margaret Livingston features in support.

Sunrise won three Oscars including Best Picture (for Unique and Artistic Production – Wings won the normal Best Picture award – it is the only year that the Unique and Artistic Best Picture was given out). It also made AFI’s most current list (2007) of the Top 100 America Films of all-time (while it is a German film, Fox producing also makes it an American production). It occupies the 82nd spot (though, personally, I think it deserves to be in the top five). The film debuted to critical praise but was a failure at the box office. It opened one month after The Jazz Singer, which had audiences clamoring for talkies. It is widely considered one of the greatest silent films (if not the best, as I would argue). It is a must-see for those interested in seeing the great films in cinema history.

Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray

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