During the first World War, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German P.O.W. camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are sent to a seemingly impenetrable fortress which seems impossible to escape from.
In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city's mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.
In this fable-morality subtitled "A Song of Two Humans", the "evil" temptress is a city woman who bewitches farmer Anses and tries to convince him to murder his neglected wife, Indre. Written by
The original negatives of the film were destroyed in a fire in 1937. See more »
The number of bottles left on the table after the piglet bumps it changes between shots. There are five bottles when the piglet bumps it, but when the Man comes in and grabs the piglet there are seven bottles on it. See more »
[opening title cards]
This song of the Man and his Wife is of no place and every place; you might hear it anywhere, at any time.
For wherever the sun rises and sets, in the city's turmoil or under the open sky on the farm, life is much the same; sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet.
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While some film critics disagreed in the late fifties, giving the nod to Murnau's equally brilliant "Last Laugh," this in my view is the crowning achievement of the German genius. Many polls rank it as the greatest silent film ever made and many rank it very high on the all time list of great movies.
The plot is melodramatic, the acting in places heavy handed, and the action seemingly non-existent, at least in the eyes of the "Terminator 3" generation,yet "Sunrise" is so captivating a film that it can be watched over and over again and deliver the same punch every time. In fact, like the other greats,including "Citizen Kane," you can probably get something new out of "Sunrise" every time you watch it, no matter how many times you watch.
Murnau takes barren sets and dark, hallow rooms and turns them into treasure troves of lighting and nuance. He creates something as simple as a railway depot or a big traffic intersection and makes it a story all by itself.
"Sunrise" stands today as one of the most visually fascinating films ever made. Murnau's cinematographers, Charles Rosher and Karl Struss, got an Oscar for their work and surely deserved it. Janet Gaynor won the Best Actress award for her body of work that also included "Seventh Heaven" and also richly deserved the prize. Her face expresses her inner emotions so perfectly that some of her scenes are achingly beautiful.
And the film itself received an academy award for "Most unique and artistic production," an award never given out again, maybe because no picture could live up to the standard set by "Sunrise."
The new DVD version being marketed on the quiet by Fox is marvelous, with a wonderfully restored print that seems just as bright today as it must have in late 1927 when the film was released. The DVD includes an interesting commentary option by cinematographer John Baily and no film is better suited for this, since it tells its story brilliantly with pictures alone, so the commentary option is not a distraction.
One of the great tragedies of the cinema in my view is that few people alive today have seen "Sunrise." They have no idea what they are missing.
This one ranks among the five best films ever made.
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