DVD Review: Le Jour se lève

Considered by some to be one of the greatest films ever made, Le Jour se lève is definitly the most famous example of poetic realism movement. Marcel Carné’s film was praised upon its release in France in 1939 but was quickly suppressed by the Vichy government less than a year later. After the war it re-emerged to great acclaim. To celebrate its 75th anniversary Studio Canal are releasing a never-before-seen restoration, including scenes previously removed.

After foundry worker François (Jean Gabin) shoots and kills Valentin (Jules Berry), he holes up in his room on the fifth floor of a a residential block in a working-class area of Paris. After the police make several unsuccessful attempts at entry, they place men on the roof opposite. François positions himself to avoid the bullets and reminisces about how he came to be in this situation. Through a series of flashbacks, he recalls how he fell in love with naive shop assistant Françoise (Jacqueline Laurent) and became involved with Clara (Arletty). Velentin is also connected with both women and the pair battle for Françoise’s affections.

Le Jour se lève was the fist French spoken film to use flashbacks as a narrative device. Considered to be a turning point in French cinema, it is often acclaimed as the greatest French film ever made. I’d stop short of that, but Carné’s film is still as magnificently surly today as it was back then. There’s a flair and vision which becomes familiar in French cinema in the following decades. The new restoration looks stunning and it’s a film which still retains the same power and energy today.

Bonus Features:

·       Last Assault on the Popular Front (documentary)
·       Restoration Process
·       Scenes censored by the Vichy Government

Le Jour se lève is released on Blu-ray and DVD by Studio Canal on October 27th.

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