Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927) By Adriaensens, Vito
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans is an American silent film directed by German director Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, who was renowned for his Expressionistic films including Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922), Der Letzte Mann (The Last Laugh, 1924), and Faust (1926). Murnau was part of a wave of successful European directors who were lured to the United States by studio moguls to increase the artistic prestige of American cinema in the 1920s. Sunrise was produced by the Fox Film Corporation, and starred George O’Brien as The Man, and Janet Gaynor as The Wife. The Fox Movietone system made it the first fiction film to be released with an optical soundtrack. Carl Mayer wrote the screenplay for Sunrise, which is based on Hermann Sudermann’s short story Die Reise nach Tilsit (The Trip to Tilsit) published in 1917. The story pits the hectic modern excess of the city against the calm of country life: it finds a farmer fall prey to the charms of a city woman who nearly drives him to kill his beloved wife. The film boasted a stylized aesthetic that had an enormous artistic and critical impact—its carefully construed montage sequences, haunting double exposures, pictorial lighting, and impressive tracking shots injected European modernism into classical American cinema. The film won three awards at the first Academy Awards in 1929: Unique and Artistic Production, Best Cinematography, and Best Actress in a Leading Role.