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Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans


  1. Directed by: F. W. Murnau
  2. Produced by: William Fox
  3. Written by: Carl Mayer
  4. Music by:
  5. Cinematography by: Charles Rosher
    Karl Struss
  6. Editing by: Harold D. Schuster
  7. Release Date: 1927
  8. Running Time: 94
  9. Language: Silent

Clips

  1. A&F Discussion Thread
  2. IMDb.com
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Netflix

For many years I had taped to my office door a copy of Syd Harris's famous cartoon in which two academics perused a chalkboard with a sea of figures making a complex mathematical formula. Embedded in the middle was the notation "Then a Miracle Occurs." 

Modernists don't like miracles; they must be explained away. Film critics dismiss this as desperate plot devices of the cornered screenwriter. But artists stubbornly persists upon insisting that inexplicable phenomena exists both in our history and in our lives. The way Ordet, the film that tops this list, resists the urge to explain away the supernatural is a major factor in why it is considered spiritually significant. 

The miracle at the heart of Sunrise is a less spectacular one, but it is mysterious and awe-inspiring in equal measures. A man rows his wife to the middle of a lake with the intention to kill her. He hardens his heart against her pleas for mercy. At the moment of action, he finally looks her in the face. Then a miracle occurs. 

For him who has ears to hear, the melting of violent intentions into loving embraces might be reminiscent of Abraham's aborted sacrifice of Isaac. Yes, there are differences, as there always are between archetype and figure. But in both cases the hand that stops the murderous blow is invisible. The interpretive act that would explain the staying hand away, that would see the transformation in the person prepared to strike the fatal blow as only psychological and not spiritual, both begs the question and explains by naming.

Sunrise is a symbol of birth and a symbol of rebirth. Both are miracles. Who among you can cause the sun to rise in the east? Who can soften his own hardened heart, much less the heart of another?

--Kenneth R. Morefield


  1. Directed by: F. W. Murnau
  2. Produced by: William Fox
  3. Written by: Carl Mayer
  4. Music by:
  5. Cinematography by: Charles Rosher
    Karl Struss
  6. Editing by: Harold D. Schuster
  7. Release Date: 1927
  8. Running Time: 94
  9. Language: Silent

Clips

  1. A&F Discussion Thread
  2. IMDb.com
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Netflix

For many years I had taped to my office door a copy of Syd Harris's famous cartoon in which two academics perused a chalkboard with a sea of figures making a complex mathematical formula. Embedded in the middle was the notation "Then a Miracle Occurs." 

Modernists don't like miracles; they must be explained away. Film critics dismiss this as desperate plot devices of the cornered screenwriter. But artists stubbornly persists upon insisting that inexplicable phenomena exists both in our history and in our lives. The way Ordet, the film that tops this list, resists the urge to explain away the supernatural is a major factor in why it is considered spiritually significant. 

The miracle at the heart of Sunrise is a less spectacular one, but it is mysterious and awe-inspiring in equal measures. A man rows his wife to the middle of a lake with the intention to kill her. He hardens his heart against her pleas for mercy. At the moment of action, he finally looks her in the face. Then a miracle occurs. 

For him who has ears to hear, the melting of violent intentions into loving embraces might be reminiscent of Abraham's aborted sacrifice of Isaac. Yes, there are differences, as there always are between archetype and figure. But in both cases the hand that stops the murderous blow is invisible. The interpretive act that would explain the staying hand away, that would see the transformation in the person prepared to strike the fatal blow as only psychological and not spiritual, both begs the question and explains by naming.

Sunrise is a symbol of birth and a symbol of rebirth. Both are miracles. Who among you can cause the sun to rise in the east? Who can soften his own hardened heart, much less the heart of another?

--Kenneth R. Morefield

For many years I had taped to my office door a copy of Syd Harris's famous cartoon in which two academics perused a chalkboard with a sea of figures making a complex mathematical formula. Embedded in the middle was the notation "Then a Miracle Occurs." 

Modernists don't like miracles; they must be explained away. Film critics dismiss this as desperate plot devices of the cornered screenwriter. But artists stubbornly persists upon insisting that inexplicable phenomena exists both in our history and in our lives. The way Ordet, the film that tops this list, resists the urge to explain away the supernatural is a major factor in why it is considered spiritually significant. 

The miracle at the heart of Sunrise is a less spectacular one, but it is mysterious and awe-inspiring in equal measures. A man rows his wife to the middle of a lake with the intention to kill her. He hardens his heart against her pleas for mercy. At the moment of action, he finally looks her in the face. Then a miracle occurs. 

For him who has ears to hear, the melting of violent intentions into loving embraces might be reminiscent of Abraham's aborted sacrifice of Isaac. Yes, there are differences, as there always are between archetype and figure. But in both cases the hand that stops the murderous blow is invisible. The interpretive act that would explain the staying hand away, that would see the transformation in the person prepared to strike the fatal blow as only psychological and not spiritual, both begs the question and explains by naming.

Sunrise is a symbol of birth and a symbol of rebirth. Both are miracles. Who among you can cause the sun to rise in the east? Who can soften his own hardened heart, much less the heart of another?

--Kenneth R. Morefield


  1. Directed by: F. W. Murnau
  2. Produced by: William Fox
  3. Written by: Carl Mayer
  4. Music by:
  5. Cinematography by: Charles Rosher
    Karl Struss
  6. Editing by: Harold D. Schuster
  7. Release Date: 1927
  8. Running Time: 94
  9. Language: Silent

Clips

  1. A&F Discussion Thread
  2. IMDb.com
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Netflix
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