Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
Judith Rosenberg accompanies the January 8 screening.
Bruce Loeb accompanies the February 18 screening.
Janet Gaynor, George O’Brien, Margaret Livingston, Bodil Rosing,
F. W. Murnau’s American masterpiece was written while the director was still in Germany. It is set in a weatherworn hamlet, perhaps in Middle Europe, and a city a world away but just across the lake. A trite situation—the happy marriage of a peasant couple invaded by a big-city seductress—is immediately stripped of melodrama, ultimately becoming film poetry. The director’s famously “invisible” tracking shots and the fluidity with which he moved through double exposures create an extraordinary moving palette from which we can project story, psychology, and a horrifyingly genuine involvement with the characters. Here are America’s sweethearts, George O’Brien and Janet Gaynor, in medias infidelity: O’Brien is almost gothically depressed by his affair as he plots a Dreiser-like boat accident for Gaynor, his wife. The very thought hovers and dances like moonlight over the rest of the film, which gaily tries to dodge it.