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Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

Sunrise (F.W. Murnau 1927)

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (original title)
Director: F.W. Murnau
Cast: George O'Brien, Janet Gaynor, Margaret Livingston
Genre: Drama Romance
Silent Film

There's a lot to love and admire in Sunrise, and one thing that I couldn't get passed. I was totally impressed with the visual look of the film....Could this be the first arthouse film? Certainly parts of the film are telling the story with creative visuals that seemed way ahead of their time. The multi layering of scenes with multi film exposure and rear projection, gives this movie a richness and dream like look that matches the fable style story telling, to a tee. It really is art as film. And I love that.

One of the most beautiful techniques in the film is a flowing scene transition, where the man and woman are walking away from us and the background morphs into a different set. Those transition scenes felt magically. I really enjoyed the middle of the film where they go to the big city. The dancing scene was great and the little side touch about the woman who's dress straps keep falling down was clever.

The end scene was heart wrenching and those large waves when the man and woman were in the little boat were very dramatic! The opening scene which plays out like a dark German expressionistic film was tense and powerful! I bet Hitchcock loved this film.

But I can't get passed the fact that the man had planned out a murder of his wife and just about killed her on the boat...then awhile latter they're happy as clams. The emotional impact of what the man was, and what he wanted to do to his wife, made his character evil in my eyes, so that I couldn't fall in love, as the couple fell in love. Visually the film is magic, but in my eyes the man could not be redeemed so that I couldn't buy into anything else that happened.

I very impressed with how they aligned this double exposure and the scene went on for awhile and was very effective.

I just loved shots like this which are rear projection with rear shot being a composite.

I would give this a solid 5/5 for cinematography. Indeed this won the Academy Award for Best Picture in the category of Artistic Quality of Production.