sunrise: a song of two humans
dir. f.w. murnau
I don’t have a lot to say about Sunrise. Historians remember it (as should the general public) as one of the first films to have a synchronized soundtrack; that is, all audiences were to hear the same music along with the film for the very first time, as it was customary for theaters to select what music was to be played live alongside the motion picture. This technology of course would be a precursor to that used for The Jazz Singer, released just a few short weeks after this film (what a year for sound!)
The plot is simple and a bit grotesque: two lovers rekindle their romance after an attempted murder. It’s possible it could’ve been viewed as a romance in its time (which is unfortunate by today’s standards), but it was still a finely tuned film. You can see once again that film is growing more complicated and defined with each new attempt, and Murnau (who directed Nosferatu a few years prior) was by now a masterful filmmaker. Janet Gaynor, the flagship star for the Fox Film company, won the first ever Academy Award for Leading Actress for her performance here.
As a piece of film history, Sunrise deserves to be kept and referenced. I don’t need much more from it.
Available to stream in standard definition via YouTube.