Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans

My Blind Spot for June is F.W. Murnau’s 1927 romantic weepie, which can be seen as one of the films that served as a bridge linking both German Expressionism and Hollywood, and silent cinema and the talkies; there’s no recorded dialogue here, but there are plenty of sound effects to be heard throughout. The story is straightforward: a man from the countryside has an affair with a woman from the city, and is so tempted by love and a slightly wilder lifestyle that he plots to kill his own wife; luckily he sees sense and decides that it might not be the best decision in the world to do so. If the film lets its lead male off the hook easily, it is at least sympathetic to the two women he loves, refusing to paint the city dweller as some kind of evil homewrecker, something that would surely have gone down well with audiences in the late 1920s. It’s acted very well indeed, with some very expressive faces among the principal cast members, and as a result the shifting relationships still seem realistic despite the lack of dialogue to help things along. The giant sets are quite striking for the time, and there’s some excellent, innovative camerawork and effects here, such as Murnau’s signature forced perspective style, some early tracking shots, incredibly creative use of overlays and some equally inventive dissolves and match cuts. (*****)