Previously at the ICA - Films

Marcel Carné, Le Jour Se Leve, 1939

Le Jour Se Leve

10 Oct 201419 Oct 2014

Often considered his greatest work, Marcel Carné’s fourth collaboration with screenwriter Jacques Prévert is a triumph; an exquisitely crafted noir describing an obsessive relationship that leads to murder, and a classic of French poetic realism.

Jean Gabin (La Grande Illusion, Le Quai des brumes) stars as the working-class François who has committed a terrible crime. Holed up in a claustrophobic flat, over the course of a long night he reflects on the oppressive circumstances – a love affair with young florist Francoise (Jacqueline Laurent); the knowledge that she is under the damaging spell of the sinister Valentin (Jules Berry); and a fling with Clara (Arletty), Valentin’s assistant – that have led him, inexorably, to murder.

A film of its time, it responded so clearly to the pessimism and foreboding felt across Europe on the cusp of World War II that after its 1939 release, it was promptly banned by the Vichy government on the grounds that it was demoralising an already defeated nation. After the war it screened to wide acclaim – but still excluded the Vichy-censored footage which will be seen for the first time ever in this release.

Suppressed again when RKO Radio Pictures planned a Hollywood remake and sought to destroy every original in existence, the film was thought to be lost forever, but thankfully reappeared in the 1950s and has subsequently stood alongside Les enfants du paradis as one of the crowning achievements of Carné and Prévert’s fruitful artistic partnership. 

Le Jour Se Leve, dir. Marcel Carné, France 1939, 93 mins

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