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Sunrise [DVD]

George O'Brien , Janet Gaynor , F.W. Murnau    Universal, suitable for all   DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
Price: £23.98
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Product details

  • Actors: George O'Brien, Janet Gaynor, Margaret Livingston, Bodil Rosing, J. Farrell MacDonald
  • Directors: F.W. Murnau
  • Writers: Carl Mayer, H.H. Caldwell, Hermann Sudermann, Katherine Hilliker
  • Producers: William Fox
  • Format: Black & White, PAL, Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Eureka Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 26 Jan 2004
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000Z0I20
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 30,179 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



In 1928 Sunrise won Oscars for Janet Gaynor as Best Actress and cinematography as a "Unique and Artistic Picture". In 1967 it was declared "the single greatest masterwork in the history of cinema" by key French new wave magazine Cahiers du Cinema. Released with a synchronised score and effects soundtrack but no dialogue, it is a cinematic landmark from the transition period between silent cinema and the talkies. Beginning as a prototype film noir in which a farmer (George O' Brien) plans the murder of his wife (Gaynor) with his vacationing lover from the city (Margaret Livingstone), the film develops from tense thriller into a story of reawakened love and redemption.

Anticipating Orson Welles's artistic freedom on Citizen Kane (1941), German expressionist director FW Murnau was given carte blanche following the huge American success of The Last Laugh (1924). The result was this poetic fable making inventive use of every technical device then available, including in-camera multiple exposures and superimpositions, long elegant tracking shots, forced perspectives, complex miniatures and synchronised sound, as well as the largest single-street-scene set ever built. The result is a film that influenced everything from Hitchcock suspense to Titanic (1997) and Eyes Wide Shut (1999). Murnau summons powerful performances from his principal players--Gaynor would later headline A Star Is Born (1937) and O'Brien would take important roles in several classic John Ford westerns--while the transcendent finale evokes and reworks the ending of the director's earlier classic, Nosferatu (1922). Though now inevitably dated Sunrise remains essential for anyone seriously interested in the development of cinematic art.

On the DVD:Sunrise is presented on an immaculately produced two-disc special edition. Though restored to full length and presented in the original 1.2:1 ratio with the complete music and effects soundtrack, the film has been taken from a print made in 1936, the original camera negative having been destroyed in a fire. As a result this is the best possible modern presentation of Sunrise, though the print, while perfectly acceptable, is very grainy, lined and flickery by contemporary standards. The mono sound has been superbly restored and is remarkably effective for its vintage; an alternative stereo musical track recorded for recent reissue sounds excellent. The film also boasts a commentary by John Bailey: apart from talking a little too much about how beautiful the lighting is, Bailey offers seriously in-depth knowledge about the film and about Murnau that really puts everything into historical context and explains the constant technical ingenuity.

The second disc presents the useful A Song of Two Humans, a 12-minute visual essay by film historian R Dixon Smith, and almost 10 minutes of outtakes with optional commentary by John Bailey, as well as a trailer, stills gallery and notes explaining the nature of the restoration. There is also an excellent 40-minute documentary Murnau's 4 Devils: Traces of a Lost Film, telling the story of the director's lost follow up to Sunrise. Microsoft Word and PDF files available via DVD-ROM present various incarnations of the screenplays for both Sunrise and 4 Devils. --Gary S. Dalkin

Product Description

F. W. Murnau — invited to America by William Fox, the promise of complete artistic freedom, and a blank cheque — made Sunrise on the cusp of two eras: it represents the silent film at the peak of its poetic sophistication, and the sound film in its infancy. Fox told Murnau to take his time, to make any film he wished, and Sunrise was completed without any studio interference — as though with a dying flourish in a medium which at that moment had achieved a startling richness of expression. It was the swan song of the era.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars probably the greatest film of silent era 17 Nov 2006
Film-a masterpiece from(in my opinion)the greatest director of all time;this DVD edition-simply a must have.First of all,excellent print-perhaps even better than the Twenty Century Fox edition(even though they own the original master prints),secondly,a wealth of extra materials-more than on any other DVD edition i know-full length audio commentary,some scenes not included in the original film(real rarity for a work from this period),a 40 minutes long documentary about Murnau's Four Devils-another film he made for Fox,but now lost,150 pages of the original script with Murnau's annotations,and a wonderfully interesting and informative booklet,40 pages long,with ilustrations and texts by,among others,Lotte Eisner,perhaps the greatest authority on Murnau and German Expressionism.This magnificent Eureka edition will hardly ever be surpassed.I can also recommend their edition of Murnau's Faust-another triumph.Strongly recommended!!!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Eureka presents Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau's maybe most important silent movie "Sunrise - A Song Of Two Humans" for the first time in Europe! What can we expect? Eureka is not going to disappoint its customers. The list of special features is long and above all very promising:
* Documentary by Film Historian R.Dixon Smith
* Original English intertitle cards
* A commentary track by ASC Cinematographer John Bailey
* Outtakes with optional commentary
* The original scenario by Carl Mayer with Murnau's handwritten annotations
* The original Sunrise screenplay
* 4 Devils reconstruction, treatment and screenplay
* Stills Gallery
* Original theatrical trailer
* Restoration Notes
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Movietone score/effects track, plus optional Dolby 2.0 Stereo alternative score.
"Sunrise" found its place in the history of silent movies next to classics like "Metropolis", "Nosferatu", "Der Golem" or "Faust". What is the story about? A young quite naive man falls in love with a cold-blooded woman who persuades him to drown his wife in order to be with her. But then something goes wrong...
This movie was the first to be awarded with three Academy Awards at the very first ceremony in 1927 and there is no question why!!! But every movie-buff should make his own opinion about this very intelligent psychological thriller that is - even yet - a shining example of how a movie should be!!!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Song of Two Humans 12 Mar 2009
By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Some films become instant classics. Others are not so lucky. 'As cold as the marble a sculptor uses', 'the sort of picture that fools highbrows into hollering Art', 'there is a not a heart-throb in Sunrise,' 'Mr Murnau's film is more than technically competent but woefully ignorant of matters of the heart.' There were good reviews too, more for it's ambitious technique than it's other merits, but Sunrise was generally regarded as a disappointment on its first release. It was quickly overshadowed at the box-office by Janet Gaynor's following film for Frank Borzage, Seventh Heaven and left a shadow over F.W. Murnau's Hollywood career, only finding an audience many years after his death and assuming its position as one of the great achievements of silent cinema many years after his death.

In many ways, Sunrise is the last great masterpiece of German Expressionist cinema. The cast and the studio may have been American, but those behind the camera were almost exclusively German (cult director Edgar G. Ulmer, who many years later would delve deeper into film noir with Detour, was one of the assistant art directors), having a notable effect on the look and feel of the film. There is little in contemporary American cinema to compare with it save King Vidor's less experimental but emotionally similar The Crowd.

At the time, Murnau was the hottest of the German Expressionist filmmakers, due to the international success of Nosferatu and, in particular, The Last Laugh. He was eventually wooed to Hollywood by William Fox, who put all the resources of his studio at his disposal. Surrounding himself with his favourite collaborators, most notably cinematographer Karl Struss and screenwriter Carl Mayer, he built massive sets and constantly reshot scenes in his quest for perfection.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece! 18 Dec 2003
For years I had a copy I taped off television and was delighted
when a laserdisc was produced. Now it will be even better on the
dvd format. A beautiful story subtitled "A Song of Two Humans".
Janet Gaynor won the first best actress Academy Award and 75 years
later her performance is still marvelous. The film also won
"Most Artistic Film" a category dropped after the first ceremony.
One is mesmerized with Murnau's work which was ahead of its time.
The irony of the ending is not to be forgotten. This should be
one of the best if not the best dvd reissue of 2004 and I am
greatful to Eureka for doing it. I can't wait.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars expressionist marvel 21 Mar 2012
By schumann_bg TOP 50 REVIEWER
Sunrise is a great experience which packs an emotional punch in a huge boxing glove! George O'Brien certainly looks like a prize-fighter and his physical force is partly what makes his rediscovery of love so moving, as Janet Gaynor is quite sparrow-like at his side, and the incredible return journey from the city requires all his strength. There is an irony that comes to light in the boat that is almost unbearably moving ... as is so much else. It is quite extraordinary how Murnau manages to get so much emotional voltage into some of the sequences - the wedding, for instance, or the cafe scene where he pushes a plate of sandwiches towards her. How can such a simple gesture release such a flood of emotion in the viewer? There is joy and exuberance also - the peasant dance and drunken piglet being especially delightful - and temptation, wrestling with goodness in a man's soul a bit like Jacob with the Angel. The film gives surface expression to all the pulsions of the heart, including its darkest recesses, and everything is acted out in a highly expressionistic manner. The sets also look very Germanic, somehow, as if they have come straight out of German 19th century painting, even though it was Murnau's first Hollywood film. And the music also adds greatly to the effect. It is altogether stunning!
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