Poetry is not limited to words.
Images – still or moving – can be poetic, too.
That's true of "Sunrise," the 1927 silent masterwork by German filmmaker F.W. Murnau. It's a simple tale we've seen thousands of times – temptation, infidelity, perhaps murder – yet it remains a hauntingly beautiful and heartbreaking film 90 years later.
The black and white photography by Charles Rosher and Karl Struss is graceful and elegiac and was groundbreaking in its ability to tell the story of Woman from the City (Margaret Livingston) who tempts Man (George O'Brien) to kill Wife (Janet Gaynor, who won an Oscar for the role).
"Sunrise" opens the fall season of Buffalo Film Seminars, the University at Buffalo class led by Diane Christian and Bruce Jackson that is open to the public. Other highlights include two films that are timely in this day of presidential and Russian controversy: "All the President's Men" and "Leviathan" (2014).
Movies are at 7 p.m. Tuesdays at the Amherst Theatre (3500 Main St.) and include a pre- and post-film talk.
Here’s the rest of the schedule:
Sept. 5, “Little Caesar” (1930, directed by Mervyn LeRoy). Edward G. Robinson became a star in this gangster film with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Glenda Farrell.
Sept. 12, “Triumph of the Will” (1935, Leni Riefenstahl). The controversial yet important documentary about the 1934 Nazi Party congress and rally in Nuremberg.
Sept. 19, “Rocco and His Brothers” (1960, Luchino Visconti). Alain Deleon is one of five brothers in this operatic story of a poor Italian immigrant family. Martin Scorsese has called the film "one of the most sumptuous black-and-white pictures I’ve ever seen."
Sept. 26, “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” (1964, Jacques Demy). Catherine Deneuve works in an umbrella store and falls for a mechanic in this colorful movie with an unusual hitch: It's completely sung. Judge for yourself if it works.
Oct. 3, M*A*S*H (1970, Robert Altman). If you only know M*A*S*H from the TV series, you need to see where it started. The film made stars out of Donald Sutherland, Elliott Gould and Sally Kellerman.
Oct. 10, “All The President’s Men” (1976, Alan J. Pakula). Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman play Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein tracking the truth that ultimately brought down a presidency in this surprisingly taut thriller.
Oct. 17, “Nostalghia” (1983, Andrei Tarkovsky). A weary Russian writer travels to Italy to research a composer from the 1700s.
Oct. 24, “Wings of Desire” (1987, Wim Wenders ). A guardian angel who falls in love with a lonely human seeks to become mortal in this romantic fantasy. Sound familiar? It was remade a decade later as "City of Angels."
Oct. 31, “Postcards from the Edge” (1990, Mike Nichols). A recovering addict (Meryl Streep) deals with her overbearing mother (Shirley MacLaine) in this comedy-drama based on the novel by Carrie Fisher.
Nov. 7, “The Scent of Green Papayas” (1993, Tran Anh Hung). The life of a family as seen through the eyes of an orphan peasant girl. "Here is a film so placid and filled with sweetness that watching it is like listening to soothing music," wrote late critic Roger Ebert.
Nov. 14, “The Wind Rises” (2013, Hayeo Miyazaki). Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki: That's all anime fans need to know. The last film by anime master Miyazaki is a historical drama that follows Jiro Horikoshi from his childhood to his design of the Japanese fighter plane.
Nov. 21, “Leviathan” (2014, Andrey Zvyagintsev). A Russian fights corruption to save his ancestral homeland in another timely screening. The film shows "the atmosphere of intolerance and xenophobia that has resulted from Putin’s harsh anti-Western rhetoric, the numerous legal norms introduced by his government to limit Western—and more generally modernizing —influences, and the raw propaganda appearing daily on television," the New Yorker wrote on its original release.
Nov. 28, “Julieta” (2016, Pedro Almodóvar). A look at a woman through love, motherhood and loss; based on three short stories from Alice Munro's "Runaway."
Dec. 5, “Some Like it Hot” (1959, Billy Wilder). After witnessing a murder, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon dress up as women to hide with an all-female jazz band traveling on a train. Their big undoing may not be the mob, but the group's singer is an especially delightful Marilyn Monroe.