Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans by F.W. Murnau might best be described as a story of rekindled love. It’s one of the first films with synchronized sound, making it an outlier at the intersection of silent and sound films. If you’re a fan of films like Nosferatu or Faust, this one is not to be missed, as they’re all the work of the same director.
F.W. Murnau is one of the leading figures of German Expressionism, the style that gave us other classic films like Metropolis. And the style is clearly recognizable in this film as well, with large sets being constructed for scenes of an archetypal big city with imposing architecture. All in all, it’s a gripping film, with a great soundtrack and a decor that will make you constantly ask yourself:
How did they manage to make this in 1927?!
Together, these elements form a crucial backdrop for the main theme of a rekindled relationship. Talking about any film without spoiling the plot is difficult, but the plot in this film is mostly driven by the acting. Although it’s one of the less talked about films that Murnau made, it’s also one that won three Oscars, one of which was for best actress. And that’s why this film is worth watching, because of the acting. While it may at times seem a bit over the top compared to today’s standards ( after all, it was made in 1927), it works.
It’s a film about mistakes, sorrow, redemption, playfulness, the tragedy of loss and the joy of getting a second chance. It’s one of those films that shows you something you didn’t know cinema can do.