The original negatives of the film were destroyed in a fire at the original Fox studios in Fort Lee, New Jersey in 1937.
F.W. Murnau hated using title cards in his films. Thus, in Sunrise (1927), the title cards become more and more infrequent as the film progresses and virtually non-existent by the end.
Many of the superimpositions throughout the film were created "in the camera". The camera would shoot one image at the side of the frame, blacking out the rest of the shot, then expose the film. They would put the exposed film back into the camera and shoot again, blocking out the area that already had an image on it.
Was the first and only film to win the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' (AMPAS) 'Best Picture' award in the category of "Artistic Quality of Production" (or "Unique and Artistic Picture"). This was the only year that this award was ever given out.
The scenes in the city were not filmed on location. They were filmed on a vast and expensive set, built especially for the movie.
The first feature film released using the Fox Movietone system, it was the first professionally produced feature film with an actual sound track.
The first silent film to be released on Blu-ray (by Eureka Entertainment on September 21st, 2009 in United Kingdom).
Sunrise (1927) was released a month after The Jazz Singer (1927). Although feted by the critics and containing a then highly progressive use of sound, it failed to connect with audiences who were now clamoring for films where the actors spoke in them.
Although well-received critically, this film did not do well at the box office, which led to the studio "reining in" F.W. Murnau creatively for his next several films.
In the original score, the music used in the scene in the photographer's studio after the couple knocks over the statue is the "Funeral March of a Marionette," by Charles Gounod - the same music that was the theme decades later (and with a quicker tempo) for Alfred Hitchcock's TV series.
The name of the baby was Jerry Craycroft. An article in Decatur Review dated December 26, 1926, reported that "eight month old Jerry Craycroft is making a name for himself in the movies... he will be seen a Fox picture, Sunrise, with Janet Gaynor and George O'Brian (sic)". A Social Security Death Index search for a Jerry Craycroft reveals that he was born on Apr 3, 1926, Death: 27 Feb 2000.
While Sunrise was the first Fox feature film to premiere with a Movietone sound track their 7th Heaven (1927) arrived earlier with a Movietone music track attached even though that film had already played its roadshow with a live score.
Janet Gaynor wore a blonde wig throughout the film. It attracted a lot of criticism at the time of release as audiences were used to seeing her with long dark hair instead.
In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #82 Greatest Movie of All Time. It was the first inclusion of this film on the list.
Director F.W. Murnau wanted Camilla Horn (with whom he had worked in Germany on Faust (1926)) for the part of "The Wife", but she was under contract to the German studio UFA at the time and they refused to loan her out, so the part went to Janet Gaynor.
Included among the '1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die', edited by Steven Jay Schneider.
The two main characters are never officially named in the film, although the screen play names them as "Ansass and Indre;" these names were also used on set. Lip readers have claimed to see the names being spoken by the characters to one another.
Sunrise opened in New York at the Time Square Theatre on September 23rd, 1927 with a symphonic Movietone accompaniment. The Jazz Singer (1927) didn't arrive until the 6th of October at the Warner Theatre.
The city street set cost an unprecedented $200,000. It was subsequently reused in other films to recoup its cost.
The world premiere programme consisted of two shorts - the Vatican choir singing and an interview with Benito Mussolini. These were designed to showcase Fox Movietone's then-new sound system.
Fox's third highest grossing film of 1928 behind Frank Borzage's 7th Heaven (1927) and John Ford's Four Sons (1928).
Janet Gaynor, who had long flowing hair in real life, wore a rigid wig in the film, to remove any sense of alluring sexuality about the Wife.
The village where the Man and the Wife live in was a purpose-built set for the film, constructed on the shores of Lake Arrowhead in California by production designer Rochus Gliese.