Sunrise, F.W. Murnau’s 1927 Silent Masterpiece

Director: F. W. Murnau
Screenwriters: Carl Mayer, Hermann Sudermann

Institute History

  • 1989 Sundance Film Festival


Among the greater, more-influential silent films ever made, Sunrise is a brilliant triumph of direction, performance and design made in 1927, just when sound was about to revolutionize the industry. Subtitled “A Song of Two Humans,” it tells the simple tale of a country farmer who, under the spell of a sophisticated city vamp, plots the murder of his wife. Moving from grim tragedy to delirious farce, Sunrise presents a fable of love and lust, light and dark, town an city that remains thematically contemporary.

Sunrise is the final and fullest expression of classic silent cinema, combining diverse stylistic elements of the twenties into an integrated whole. Its camera movements are masterfully, breathtakingly choreographed. Grand, angular sets achieved a depth perspective unseen in the cinema of its day. Richly evocative expressionistic lighting techniques were used to produce a haunting sensuality and, just as easily, the cacophonous mise-en-scene of an urban carnival. David Newman will conduct the Utah Symphony in the world premiere of his original score, composed specifically for this 1989 United States Film Festival presentation. Sunrise will be screened in a new 35mm print.

Presented in cooperation with Killiam Shows.
35mm printing provided by Foto-Kem.

Screening Details

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