One of those seminal works without which modern movies wouldn’t exist, this silent melodrama describes itself in the opening titles as a “song,” but it would be more accurate to compare it to a painting. German master F.W. Murnau (Nosferatu) made his American debut with this simple story of a country man (George O’Brien) who is persuaded by a seductive city woman to murder his wife (Oscar winner Janet Gaynor). Without the crutch of dialogue, early filmmakers were forced to communicate mostly through composition, which may be why the sight of Gaynor’s downturned face while sitting before her husband’s empty place at the table says more than 10 pages of a David Mamet script. Not that Sunrise is merely a relic, for Murnau also pushed the boundaries of where movies could go. Throughout, images are delicately superimposed on each other to create a dreamlike mood, as when the apparition of the husband’s lover materializes next to him as he thinks of her. The camera also moves throughout Sunrise with a freedom unknown to 1927 audiences, dragging the cinema along with it out of the realm of the static.