‘Sunrise’ is a reminder of how quickly film language developed into something so remarkable in under 20 years and how few modern filmmakers today take advantage of the innovative concepts that Murnau and his fellow silent-film pioneers perfected.


I have tried in the past to argue for the power of silent films and I have offered “Modern Times,” “The Gold Rush” and “Sunrise” as possible entry points to the silent era, but “The General” is the only one of the silent films on the list that my wife, Jaime, was able to sit through from beginning to end without complaint, just an occasional delighted gasp, or laugh.