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Sunrise (1927)


One of the first psychological thrillers ever made, F.W. Murnau’s silent Sunrise is as dark as they come. Here we find a city-dwelling woman vacationing in the country, where she falls for a married man. The woman (none of the characters are given names) convinces her lover to off his wife in a drowning ‘accident,’ so the new couple can be together back in the city. That’s just the first 20 minutes.

One of the most gripping silent films ever made, Murnau proved decades ahead of his time with camerawork here in this ‘song of two humans.’ The acting, for once, is subtle and compelling, with extremely few title cards (all of which are in English). It’s a far cry from the histrionics of Keaton and Chaplin (though a bit of slapstick can’t be avoided), and you may just find that, despite your modern sensibilities, you like the silents after all.

Based on the German story Die Reise Nach Varna.

Aka Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans.