Website Open Culture is a great source for free cinema and other cultural tidbits, so we were pleased to see its list of silent films available to watch online right now. The site referenced Sight & Sound magazine’s critics poll that published last year, and included three silent movies that ranked in the top 10: F.W. Murnau’s Sunrise, Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera and Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc.
Murnau's movie just celebrated its 86th anniversary, so we've included the film for your viewing pleasure, below. Sunrise has the distinction of being the first and only film to win the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Best Picture award for "Artistic Quality of Production." The category was discontinued after that year. The legendary German director brought his Expressionist style to Hollywood, creating stylized sets for the romantic drama about a married farmer and a vampy city girl who tries to lure him from his unsuspecting wife.
The set design was expensive for the time period (a city street cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to create), and Murnau's in-camera effects and stunning cinematography were a hit. The film was praised by critics, but suffered at the box office, and the director hit a low point in his career with the works that followed. Explore the beauty and drama of Murnau's Sunrise, considered one of the greatest silent films of all time, in this clip.
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