Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
F.W. Murnau’s 1927 silent-with-sound-effects classic, Sunrise, was made at the precipice of the “talkie” era, and its justifiably famous tracking shots show just how advanced silent filmmaking had become before sound set it back a few years. The story is simple: A handsome peasant is seduced by a Woman From the City (if you get my drift) into killing his wife, but relents. He wins back his wife’s love before losing her to a real tragedy. Even if the performances are dated, Sunrise is elevated by its visionary design and its bizarre story structure—the more heavy-handed love-triangle-tragedy story line bookends a magical, comic and romantic second-act idyll in the Big City, seen by Murnau as a chaotic, threatening maze of careening machines, bobbed-hair floozies and brass bands.