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Le Jour Se Lève

Le jour se lève
Film poster
Directed by Marcel Carné
Produced by Robert and Raymond Hakim
Written by Jacques Prévert
Jacques Viot
Starring Jean Gabin
Jules Berry
Music by Maurice Jaubert
Cinematography Philippe Agostini
André Bac
Albert Viguier
Curt Courant
Edited by René Le Hénaff
Distributed by AFE
Release dates
  • 9 June 1939 (1939-06-09)
Running time
93 min.
Country France
Language French

Le jour se lève (or Daybreak) is a 1939 French film directed by Marcel Carné and written by Jacques Prévert, based on a story by Jacques Viot. It is considered one of the principal examples of the French film movement known as poetic realism.

In 1952, it was included in the first Sight and Sound top ten greatest films list.


  • Synopsis 1
  • Cast 2
  • Distribution 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


The film begins with foundry worker François (Jean Gabin) shooting and killing Valentin (Jules Berry). François then locks himself in his room in a guest house at the top of many flights of stairs. He is soon besieged by the police, who fail in an attempt to shoot their way into the room, as François barricades himself in.

In a series of flashbacks punctuated by glimpses of the present, it is revealed that François had become involved with both the naive young floral shop worker Françoise (Jacqueline Laurent), and the more experienced Clara (Arletty), who until she met François had been the assistant in Valentin's performing dog act. It becomes clear that the manipulative Valentin, an older man, had himself been involved with both women, and he becomes jealous of François (at one point, mendaciously telling François that he, Valentin, was Françoise's father, although both she and François had grown up in orphanages). Finally Valentin confronts François in his room, bringing with him the gun with which François eventually shoots him.

As we return to the present, François continues to chain-smoke nervously in his room. Françoise, having learned of his plight, has become delirious and is being tended to by Clara in her room at a nearby hotel. Then, two policemen climb over the roof of François's building, preparing to throw tear gas grenades through the window of François's room. Before they can do so, François, consumed with despair, shoots himself in the heart. The film ends with tear gas clouds filling the room around his lifeless body, as the alarm clock, which he set earlier at the beginning of his meeting with Valentin, starts to ring, announcing the morning.



Le Jour se lève was released in France in June 1939 and shown in the US the following year. In France, however, the film was banned in 1940 by the Vichy government on the grounds it was demoralizing.[1] After the war's end, the film was shown again to wide acclaim.

In 1947, it was again suppressed when RKO Radio Pictures wanted to remake the film in Hollywood (as The Long Night). The company acquired the distribution rights of the French film and sought to buy up and destroy every copy of the film that they could obtain. For a time it was feared that that they had been successful and that the film was lost, but it re-appeared in the 1950s and has subsequently stood alongside Les Enfants du paradis as one of the finest achievements of the partnership of Carné and Prévert.[2]

See also


  1. ^ Hames, Coco (27 November 2013). "Cahiers du Coco: Le Jour Se Leve". Retrieved 5 April 2014. 
  2. ^ "Le Jour se lève", in Nicholas Thomas (ed) International Dictionary of Films and Filmmaking: 1: Films, 1990, Chicago & London: St James Press, p.447; "Le Jour se lève", in Liz-Anne Bawden (ed) The Oxford Companion to Film, 1976, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p.373.

External links

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