Lost in the Movies: Sight & Sound #11 Sunrise (LOST IN THE MOVIES podcast #59)

Sight & Sound #11 Sunrise (LOST IN THE MOVIES podcast #59)

Following my coverage of Jeanne Dielman, Beau Travail, and Close-Up, Sunrise is the first film in my Sight & Sound podcast miniseries that I saw before this particular project; however, in all these years of online work I've never discussed it in depth. The F.W. Murnau-directed silent film is famous as, among other things, arguably the first real Best Picture winner at the Oscars (it won a one-time-only "Unique and Artistic Picture" award alongside Wings' canonized victory for "Outstanding Picture"). It's been a mainstay on the Sight & Sound list for decades although 2022 saw it slip slightly from its 2012 peak at #5. The story of a husband (George O'Brien) considering the murder of his wife (Janet Gaynor) because he's under the sway of a diabolical "Woman from the City" (Margaret Livingston), Sunrise makes several unexpected and enthralling swerves in narrative, tone, and character. How in the world does a brooding melodrama set in a rural village find time for a drunken pig on the floor of an urban Jazz Age nightclub dance floor?! I love the film - and Murnau's work generally - for its willingness to wander, but of course Sunrise's appeal goes far beyond the narrative: this is just an absolutely gorgeous film to look at. Re-visiting this movie takes me back to the early days of this site, when I covered silent cinema with much more frequency than in recent years. While the film hails from an era that's now a century past, it's fascinating to consider how close it is to the present - as I point out on the podcast, the three central actors lived into the mid-eighties, all dying within a year of one another and (just barely) within my own lifetime.

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Previous brief mentions on my site: screenshot for #WatchlistScreenCaps / clip in 32 Days of Movies w/ screenshot alongside Nosferatu + awarded feature, director & cinematography in my Alternate Oscars (which also features The Last Laugh & Faust)

Several Murnau screenshots on Allan Fish's countdown round-up (w/ links to his entries)


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(may be public on my main site already, but was not yet at the time of this episode)

This cross-post was accidentally published yesterday but was intended for today, so it has been taken down and re-published.

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