Sunrise is a distinguished contribution to the screen, made in this country, but produced after the best manner of the German school. In its artistry, dramatic power and graphic suggestion it goes a long way toward realizing the promise of this foreign director in his former works, notably Faust.
What director F.W. Murnau has tried to do is to crystallize in dramatic symbolism those conflicts, adjustments, compromises and complexities of man-and-woman mating experiences that ultimately grow into an endearing union.
Many elements enter into the success of this ambitious effort. Murnau reveals a remarkable resourcefulness of effects; the playing of George O’Brien and Janet Gaynor and their associates is generally convincing.
The incidental music blends smoothly, suggesting the mood of the scene, but without intruding into the conscientiousness. In many scenes (honking autos, when dreaming lovers block a street, is a case in point) sound effects are introduced. This has been managed with skill.
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All these things lay upon a story [based on a short story by Herman Sadermann, Die Reise nach Tilsit/ The Trip To Tilsit] as simple as it is human. The Woman from the City (Margaret Livingston) snares a young farmer (O’Brien). Under her hypnotism he listens to a plan to drown the young wife (Gaynor), sell the farm and go off to the city.
1927/28: Best Actress (Janet Gaynor), Cinematography, Artistic Quality of Production.
Nomination: Best Art Direction