Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

Here’s my contribution to The Skuriels.  Head there immediately.

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (Murnau, 1927): Years before Orson Welles fired up his Hollywood train set, F.W. Murnau dipped deep into the studio pockets to deliver this, an astonishingly fluid tone poem filled to bursting with imagination and sentiment. Effortlessly whirligigging between nightmare and dream, Sunrise is many things at many points: horror story, small town tragedy, pie-eyed romance fable, and a surprisingly goofy comedy (that drunk pig!).  Even at its broadest moments, however – the Woman from the City’s unnerving jitterbug after proposing murder, The Man’s sudden transformation into a slope-shouldered zombie – the sense of wonder remains. Above all, this is a film where you can feel the director blissing out on the sheer possibility of what movies can do. The advent of sound would soon put a limiter plate on this type of unfettered expressionism; Murnau’s masterpiece still stands, untarnished and somehow newly minted. I could watch it every night.


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