Essential Art House: Le Jour se Lève

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One of the great works of 1930s poetic realist cinema, Le Jour Se Leve was Marcel Carne’s third collaboration with screenwriter and poet Jacques Prevert. A story of obsessive sexuality and murder, in which the working-class Francois (Jean Gabin) resorts to killing in order to free the woman he loves from the controlling influence of another man, the film cemented the reputations of Gabin and Carne…. More >>

Essential Art House: Le Jour se Lève

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  1. It begins with an argument behind closed doors, a gun shot, and then a man staggering out, falling down the stairs to his death. Behind the door is Jean Gabin, who now barricades himself in his room to keep the police at bay. We are then shown three flashbacks which explain how he got where he is now. Two of the flashbacks concern women he has loved, the third is about the sleazebucket Valentin (played by Jules Barry) who is also in love with one of them. It’s Barry who comes to Gabin’s apartment to get Gabin to stay away, and it’s Barry who is shot by Gabin. (Barry is reminiscent of Clifton Webb in LAURA – the old lecher in love with a young beauty.) The composition of the film is poetic and beautiful, and the acting is very well done. The initial meeting between Gabin and his love Francoise in her house is exquisitely handled by both. It’s a very romantic, stylish movie – a true classic in world cinema.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  2. Released less than three months before Hitler invaded Poland the fil is a real mirror image of the dominant atmosphere in those ages. Le jour se leve is a perfect example of artistic achievement , and the finest representation of Carne’s poetic realism . The film is simply the poetic expression of the authentic human experience and one of the highest peaks in Carne’s filmography .

    You can feel the struggling shadow of destiny surrounding the happiness’ dream in every place you could imagine . The black atmosphere of disillusion and hopeless immersed in one the central nerves of the Civilzation is told with such of mesmerizing realism that clearly you will tie next films as Paisa or Roma open city with the social background but very close related in which lack of humanity and reason for living in the middle of the ashes .

    A classic!

    Rating: 5 / 5

  3. As I watch the films of Marcel Carne I sit there and I’m amazed. How could someone be so blessed with talent? How do some people become so fortunate?

    Carne is without question one of the greatest filmmakers that ever lived. I’ve only seen a small handful of his films, but, I don’t need to see that much to recognize his genuis. Both of his films “Children of Paradise” and “Port of Shadows” rank among my all time favorite films. And “Daybreak” is just as good.

    “Daybreak” actually has something in common with “Children of Paradise”. Both films are anti-war parables. In fact, I think “Daybreak” does a better job of presenting its views.

    Francois (Jean Gabin) has just killed a man, Valentin (Jules Berry) in a crime of passion. Both men were in love with Francoise (Jacqueline Laurent). The film then takes place in flashbacks as we see how Francois and Francoise meet and eventually fall in love. We also learn how Francois and Valentine meet and what leads to Valentine’s ultimate faith.

    After killing the man Francois locks himself in his room so the police cannot get him. He has now isolated himself from the world. At this point I should point out the film was made in 1939. World War 2 was on the horizon. Supposedly this film was released before the war started, but, people of Europe knew war was on the way.

    When we look at the film from this context “Daybreak” is more than a story of doomed love. The film argues evil is on the way and in a world filled with hate and violence there is no room for love. And without love, we cannot survive. Lets also remember America did not enter the war at the beginning. Does Francois’ action of isolationism reflect this country’s stance on the war?

    The movie was based on a story by Jacques Viot and written by Jacques Prevent, who also worked on “Children of Paradise”. Prevent and Carne were quite a team. Their work together dwells deep into the conscience of the times. These films; “Port of Shadows”, “Children of Paradise” and this film, are making social arguments in the most subtle of way but by the time the film is over, the effect is not only powerful but lasting.

    Marcel Carne’s films seem to be difficult to find in this country. I’m going to search though. With three movies he has turned me into a strong, devoted fan of his work. If you haven’t seen any of his films I strongly suggest you do. And it doesn’t matter where you start. Watch whatever you can find from him. In the end you’ll realize, as I have, Carne is a master.

    Bottom-line: A strong anti-war film that deserves to be compared to Carne’s “Children of Paradise”. Both films dwell deep into the public’s conscience of the world around them. A powerful film!
    Rating: 4 / 5

  4. In the late ’30s and early ’40s, the films of Marcel Carné gave eloquent voice to a mood of fatalistic, romantic pessimism… After the war, however, his career was a sad shadow of its former self…

    Central to Carné and Prévert’s conception of doomed love was Jean Gabin’s proletarian antihero, trapped in darkened rooms and foggy streets while awaiting retribution for crimes he barely knew he might commit: in “Quai des Brumes,” Gabin’s deserter comes violently up against local gangsters in a battle over the girl with whom he has fallen suddenly, passionately in love; in “Le jour se Léve,” surrounded by police but unable to contemplate surrender, he recalls the events leading to his shooting of a girlfriend’s seducer…

    Widely described as poetic realism, Carné’s style is in fact anything but realist; the squalor, shadows, and smoky bars all externalize the hero’s melancholy resignation to an unjust Destiny… Without Carné’s expert control of atmosphere, the effect might seem merely picturesque, for rarely have solitude, alienation and death been imbued with such elegance and beauty…

    Rating: 4 / 5

  5. In 1952, “Sight and Sound” presented their first Top Ten poll of the best movies of all time. Coming in a tie for 7th place was “Le Jour se Leve”. As the 20th Century drew to a close, movie fans were given a treat in the form of the book “The New York Times Guide to the 1000 Best Movies ever Made”. The book omitted movies from the silent era but was quite receptive to foreign-language films. Yet the book did not list “Le Jour se Leve” as one of it’s top 1000 films. How does a movie go from top 10 to missing inclusion in the top 1000? Perhaps “Le Jour se Leve” cam claim the title of being, simultaneously, the most over-rated and under-rated movie of all time. Personally, I liked the movie when I saw it last night but I debated about giving it a 5 Star rating.

    “Le Jour se Leve” is the story of a murder that strips away any semblance of suspense by giving the audience the victim and the murderer in the opening scene. It doesn’t take much longer to clarify the motive as well. The movie’s greatness is telling a love story within the context of our knowing its’ extreme outcome from the start. This approach gives the audience a unique focus on each and every step of the developing romances as the films goes through a number of flashbacks. The main character is an easy-going laborer who stumbles into a relationship with a young woman. There is another man and that leads to another woman all of which we pickup on in successive flashbacks. There are a couple of minor twists that we don’t see coming but the movie is very up-front with the plot.

    “Le Jour se Leve” emerges into an intense romantic drama that develops the main characters in a method of excellance that was the likely reason for its’ “Sight and Sound” Top Ten rating. The characters are of varying complexity and the talented cast, led by Jean Gabin, is outstanding. The direction by Marcel Carne is the key to the whole film. I could not recall a scene that didn’t add to the movie’s impact. This movie suffers from the key to its’ own success; its’ predictability. Once I understood that, I was able to appreciate its’ excellence but I can’t fault anyone who thought otherwise. “Le Jour se Leve” doesn’t make my Top Ten but it certainly makes the top 1000 with plenty of room to spare.
    Rating: 5 / 5

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