Sunrise is an undisputed masterpiece of the silent era’s final days, a staggering set of technical achievements in service to melodramatic fairy-tale pathos. It’s also the story of how sometimes the only thing needed to put the spark back in an empty marriage is a little bit of attempted murder.
In 1928, following the one-two punch of his celebrated U.S.-made releases Faust and Sunrise, and four years after he made The Last Laugh for UFA, the great German director F.W. Murnau predicted that the “films of the future will use more and more of these camera angles, or, as I prefer to call them, these dramatic angles.
One of the great curiosities about early horror films, particularly the American variety: why are they so scared of horrifying? Paul Leni’s The Last Warning (1929) – more or less a reboot of his previous The Cat and the Canary from 2 years prior, swapping a spooky old Broadway stage for a spooky old mansion – is typical of this impulse.