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Sunrise, F.W. Murnau's Comedy Masterpiece

To mark this year’s F.W. Murnau retrospective at the Brazilian festival Olhar de Cinema, I was asked to contribute something to the program. And so I went and wrote a little essay about how Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau’s Sunrise is the dictionary definition of a classic film. It won (for all intents and purposes) the first ever Academy Award, has been placed on the National Registry, and was the first silent film put out on Blu-Ray. It routinely places in “Best Of” lists, it’s a picture whose artistry is intended to be accessible to mass audiences. It is conventionally beautiful, conventionally narrative, conventionally stirring. It needs no apologies or excuses, it’s just excellent in every way.

But did you know it was a comedy?

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans screens in the festival June 11th and 12th. More information about the retrospective can be found in English at and

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