F.W. Murnau’s luminous silent masterwork is a virtuosic display of visual storytelling and a testament to an artistry that was all but lost with the onset of the talkie era. Part bucolic idyll, part dynamic city symphony, the film charts the folly and redemption of a country farmer (George O’Brien) torn between his loving wife (Janet Gaynor) and the temptations of a big-city vamp (Margaret Livingston). Given almost complete creative freedom by Fox, Murnau exults in the pure expressive power of the image—never more touchingly than when he envisions the married couple’s rhapsodic romantic fantasy amid a traffic jam. Bonus: that adorable, drunken piglet! 35mm print preserved by The Museum of Modern Art. The screening will be accompanied with a live piano performance by Donald Sosin.

Preceded by:
Edge of Alchemy
Stacey Steers, USA, 2017, 19m
In Stacey Steers’s handmade film, assembled from over 6,000 collages, the actors Mary Pickford and Janet Gaynor are appropriated from their early silent features and cast into a surreal epic.