I failed to be blown away as was expected when Fritz Lang’s Metropolis was reissued back in 1984 with a modern music soundtrack. Perhaps I’ve grown to appreciate movies more since then because Sunrise (A Story of Two Humans) the 1927 silent film by F.W. Murnau did not fail to impress. This Fox Studios and silent film classic is part of the Murnau, Borzage and Fox Box Set. The box set features 12 films from the early days of Fox Studios on 12 DVD, the Murnau, Borzage and Fox documentary by John Cork. There are also two photo albums included.
Sunrise is a beautifully and very symbolically told story of a farmer who becomes enamored with a city woman and consequently decides to drown his wife. Things happen and the movie moves to a city setting where Murnau’s visual talents are demonstrated. It then returns to the country setting for its finale.
This is a visually stunning classic movie with some extraordinary effects for the time and even for now. The Luna Park sequence is really mesmerizing.
The Sunrise DVD is a double-sided disc. Side one features the Murnau film with its Movietone soundtrack, a new and horrible soundtrack, and a very interesting if a bit wordy commentary track by ASC cinematographer John Bailey. Side 2 has the European silent version as well as yet another soundtrack.
Bailey’s commentary on Sunrise is something you should listen to either the first time around to learn how to appreciate Sunrise, or after to see what you might have missed in terms of artistry. Trying to do both, as I did, makes for a lesser experience.
The print quality for Sunrise is quite astonishing and there is very, very little if anything a classic cinema fan will complain about on this DVD.
Other films in the Murnau, Borzage and Fox DVD box set are Frank Borzage’s Lazybones (1925), Street Angel (1928), 7th Heaven (1927) winner of the first 3 Academy Awards ever, Lucky Star (1929), They Had To See Paris (1929), Liliom (1930), After Tomorrow (1932), Young America (1932), Song O’ My Heart (1932), and Bad Girl (1931) which on Borzage his second Best Director Oscar. Murnau’s films in this set are Sunrise (1927) and City Girl (1930) with a new score and special features with glimpses of Murnau’s lost classic 4 Devils.