Le Jour se leve (1939) directed by Marcel Carne, is widely recognised as the classic French Poetic Realist film. Told in flashback, it recounts the story of a man who has committed a murder, and who awaits his fate as the police close in. Carne shuttles between different registers, tones and textures throughout, marshalling the studio's resources to create striking pictorial compositions. The film also contains the great French star Jean Gabin's most iconic performance as Francois, marooned at the top of his apartment building. Ben McCann's perceptive and lively book traces the evolution of Le Jour se leve and situates it in a very specific historical moment. He also underlines the importance of actors Jules Berry and Arletty, production designer Alexandre Trauner, writer Jacques Prevert and cinematographer Curt Courant in establishing the film's tone, mood and visual style. He charts the national and international reception of the film, uncovering a work that deeply divided critics at a time of national crisis. He also reveals Le Jour se leve to be a key transitional work between European and American noir and compares it with the 1947 Hollywood remake.
Highlighting its combination of the 'poetic' and the 'realist' this book finally stresses how Le Jour se leve represents the very best of pre-war French studio filmmaking.
Ben McCann is Senior Lecturer in French Studies at the University of Adelaide. He is the coeditor of Cinema Utopia: The Cinema of Michael Haneke (2011).
Dedication Acknowledgements Synopsis Introduction Notes Context and Planning Carne and the team France in the 1930s - The Film Industry and Dominant Genres Poetic Realism Filming Le Jour se leve Notes 2. Structure, Set Design, Style Structure Set Design Style Notes 3. Performance and Politics Performance styles Sequence analysis I: the caf-e-concert (26m. 56s.) Gender politics Sequence analysis II: the greenhouse (56m. 14s.) Class struggles Sequence analysis III: Francois's death (1h 19m. 23s.) A reflectionist film? Notes 4. Reception and Remake French reception Blame the barometer? International reception Le Jour se leve remade - 'As dark as a Hallmark card?' Afterlife I: Whatever happened to Marcel Carne? Afterlife II: The rise and rise of Le Jour se leve Notes Conclusion Notes Appendix 1: Credits Appendix 2: Marcel Carne filmography Appendix 3: Select bibliography