Sunrise (1927)

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By Scott Ross

F.W. Murnau’s stunning visual masterpiece — maybe the most beautiful of all silents; it’s certainly one of the most exquisitely imagined movies of its already lush period. A deeply humane, expressionistic romance spiked with misery, fear, erotic obsession, guilt, murderous impulse — in short, love itself.

George O’Brien is at his most ethereally beautiful, and Janet Gaynor personifies innocent vulnerability as the wife he plots to kill before recognizing the depth of his feeling for her. Carl Mayer wrote the broad but affecting scenario. The big city sequences are still staggeringly effective.

With Arthur Housman and Gibson Gowland, the star of Erich von Stroheim’s aggressively butchered silent masterpiece Greed, in small roles. Astonishingly, this essential movie has only ever been released on DVD as a special premium for those who bought X-number of “classic” Fox discs.

Full title, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans.

Text copyright 2013 by Scott Ross

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