The Front Row View: Sunrise

The Front Row View is a regular column by Great Stories contributor Jim Cannizzaro.  He is a veteran community theater leading man, seasoned blogger, movie enthusiast, and family man.


{Editor’s Note:  Originally published in a different forum on January 1, 2015)

It’s New Year’s Day, and what better way to start the new year than with a viewing of German director F.W. Murnau’s 1928 silent masterpiece Sunrise? A young farmer is tempted by a visiting woman from the city to murder his wife and run off with her. He almost does it, then has a change of heart and realizes how much he loves his wife. They end up taking a trip into the nearby city. Both are astounded by the marvels that the city has to offer. The simple story isn’t the attraction. What is is the style in which the movie was made. Murnau was a student of German Expressionism, and much of the movie is designed in this fashion. Bizarre camera angles, off-kilter and dramatic lighting, as well as wondrous imagery give the movie a fairy tale quality that makes it one of the most beautiful black and white films ever made. The young farmer’s seduction under a full moon, as well as the young couple’s journey to the city are marvels to behold. Janet Gaynor took the very first Academy Award for Best Actress for this film. The movie itself won a special Academy Award for most “Unique and Artistic Picture.” A highly recommended journey into one of the great dream worlds that the movies have given us.


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