Le Jour Se Lve Marcel Carn

In Le Jour se lève, one of the great films from the French Poetic Realist tradition, Jean Gabin plays François, a worker in a sand-blasting factory, who has murdered Valentin (Jules Berry) because the latter had taunted him over François's girlfriend, Françoise (Jacqueline Laurent). He has holed up in his hotel bedroom, where he ruminates during the night on the events that led up to the murder. In this sequence (which is approximately six minutes long), the third hotel room sequence, the day has dawned and he addresses the crowd that has gathered below his hotel - Françoise, and his friends Gaston and Paulo arriving a little later with Clara (Arletty), also betrayed by Valentin, and in love with François.

In the column headed 'Camera' there are abbreviations for a variety of camera movements:


pan right


pan left


dolly forwards


dolly back


tilt up


crane up


crane back

Description of shot Camera Dialogue

1 Wardrobe (DISSOLVE)


François in corner staring


Brooch (close-up)


François throws brooch out of window



WIPE to building exterior


François paces, lights cigarette, smashes mirror



François walks to window





Crowd/building (high angle)



François opens window (long shot; low angle)


Crowd looks up (long shot; high angle)


François at window (medium shot)


Pair of individuals in crowd


Different pair of individuals in crowd


Different pair of individuals in crowd


François (same as 12)

François: What are you looking at? What are you staring at, all of you? Eh?


Individuals of shot 13

Individuals: What's up with him? He's gone mad!


Individuals of shot 14

Individuals: Is he going to jump?

19 Blind man in group Blind man: What's going on?

Individual: He's at his window. Blind man: But what's going on, eh?

20 François François: I'm not a strange animal me. What are you waiting for? Ah, you're waiting for me to jump, ha! A murderer. Ah, now that's interesting isn't it, a murderer. I am a murderer. Yes, I'm a murderer. But murderers are everywhere! Everywhere! Everybody kills. Everybody kills a little bit, but they kill on the quiet, so you don't see it. It's like the sand, inside you, here inside you ...


Crowd (long shot)

So just bugger off.



Bugger off. Go away. Go back

home. You'll read about it in

the papers, it'll be in print,

everything will be in print...


Man in crowd (close-up)

... And you'll read it...


Woman in crowd (close-up)

... and you'll ...


Youth in crowd (close-up)

... believe it...



Because you can find

everything in the papers,

they're jolly well informed. So

bugger off, you're going to

catch cold ...


Couple at window (long shot)

... Go on, clear off...


Woman at window


Different woman at window,

... Leave me alone ...

F in background


Building (extreme long shot)

... Alone you hear...



... I'm not asking anything from

anyone, I just want to be left...

Description of shot Camera Dialogue

32 Françoise arrives CU/CB ...alone.

Françoise: François. François.



François: Oh I'm tired, leave me alone ...


Françoise, Gaston, Paulo

Group of friends: François.

(match on 32)




François: I no longer trust anyone. It's over, over, you hear.


Françoise, Gaston, Paulo

Gaston: François, don't stay up there, there's no point.


Men in crowd

François: There are people who have killed other people. They haven't died as a result. Men: Come down, we can talk about it afterwards.



François: Hey, you lot, there's a job going, a good little job in my good little factory, with overtime. So go on, what are you waiting for? Happiness, a nice little lot of happiness.


Françoise, Gaston, Paulo

Paulo: François you ought to come down, we could sort something out.



François: What do you mean François? What François? There's no François any more. Don't know him, there's no François anywhere, anywhere, so leave me alone, bugger off, go away, leave me in peace.



Voices: François, we know you, you're a good bloke ... Don't dig your heels in ... We'll speak up for you ... Come on, come down, it's no good.



(General hubbub)

Description of shot




Three policemen

Policemen: So what do we do ... We wait, that's orders.



(General hubbub)


Arrival of riot police



Riot police get out of lorry (low angle)


Riot police line up in front of crowd


Ranks of riot police


Riot police push crowd back

(General hubbub)


Crowd (high angle)


François (long shot; low angle)


Françoise, Gaston, Paulo pushed back



Clara, Gaston, Paulo take Françoise to Clara's room


Paulo: She's fallen down, she probably knocked her head ... We can't go leave her there ... Clara: That's fine, take her up to my room.

Hotel owner: Hey, where are you going, where are you going?

Clara: She's hurt.

Owner: Yes, but this isn't a hospital.

54 François on bed

55 Wardrobe (DISSOLVE) DF

Amongst the important features of this sequence, two in particular stand out: first, the use of glass and the mirror; second, the three-pronged relationship between François, the crowd, and the authorities represented by the policemen and riot the police.

André Bazin wrote of the importance of glass in the film, pointing out how it could function as a metaphor for François' situation:

Glass is transparent but also reflects, both loyal, because you can see through it, and deceptive, because it separates you, and dramatic because if you forget about it it breaks and brings you bad luck; glass seems to comprise all the elements of François's drama. (Bazin, 1983: 62)

Small wonder, then, that both the glass of the window and the glass of the mirror are in this sequence shattered. François' face is framed in both. It is framed expres-sionistically with chiaroscuro lighting effects in the window (shot 7), suggesting a brooding caged beast, his world shattered as he remembers that Françoise, whom he believed to be pure and untainted by the mire of this world, has turned out to be Valentin's ex-lover; hence his fury as he throws the brooch out of the window (shots 3-4), since it represents Valentin and his lies to both Françoise and Clara, another ex-lover. The mirror functions as a device to tell François' 'story', with its photographs slipped into the frame, and the baubles propped against it on the mantelpiece. These were meaningless at the beginning of the film, but are invested with meaning by the time of this sequence, because we have seen where they came from. It is no surprise then that François should shatter the mirror (shot 6), caught in a moment of helpless anger in its frame as he destroys the 'old', gullible François who still believed in something. It is as if he were destroying his past in readiness for self-immolation, as Thiher points out:

[The mirror] is quickly shattered by the gunfire and can then reflect only a distorted image corresponding to the shattered world that lies about François. In it François sees himself both as he is and, metaphorically, as a destroyed being. It is thus not surprising that he should finally smash the mirror in anger, which is on one level an attempt to abolish this image of himself and, on another level, an act that analogically foreshadows his suicide. The shattered mirror contains within itself the contradiction of the tragic circle that leads to self-destruction as the only release from tragic awareness. (Thiher, 1979: 124)

Bazin too speaks of this film as a tragedy, and points out how the crowd acts as a veritable Greek chorus, commenting on the action. The crowd has a more important role to play than mere comment, however. It frames François too, but very differently from the mirror and the window. This is not hard glass, but human beings, shown to have feelings by Carné, who carefully isolates individuals at key moments of François' oration. At first, the crowd is hostile; the gaze of individuals is silent, and the crowd is seen mostly in long shot, at a considerable distance from François. This is exacerbated by Alexandre Trauner's décor, comprising an excessively tall apartment block and a claustrophobic hotel bedroom. Bazin points out how the hotel is not realistic at all, set apart as it is from other buildings, and its excessive height emphasised by an unnaturally tall lamp-post; and Carné himself, in his autobiography, explains how the hotel bedroom was constructed as a kind of box; once the (real) bullets had destroyed the only exits (window and door), the only way in and out was by ladder.

The feeling of distance and claustrophobia thus generated is gradually dismantled by dialogue, cutting across François' oration. Dialogue between François and the crowd is introduced by an intermediary group, Françoise accompanied by François' friends, Gaston and Paulo, with a crane up signalling the breaking down of the hostility previously established. It is at this point that individuals, instead of commenting on his state of mind (as, for example, in shots 17-18), or just simply staring at him, begin to encourage him. The empathy generated between François and the crowd - after all, as the dialogue makes clear, they are like him, working people, who understand his resentment at working conditions and the fear of unemployment - carries a specific political purpose, as can be seen by the introduction of the riot police, who push back the murmuring crowd. They are clearly set up as repressive, partly by their contrast with the more individual and indecisive gendarmes, pardy by the low camera angle that magnifies the threat they represent, the tramping of the feet in leather boots and the barked orders.

What seems to be gestured at here is a feeling of loss, almost of despair. All of the gains made by the left-wing coalition of the Popular Front government had been lost. The then innovative 40-hour working week had been suspended, there had been tax increases, a general strike had failed and, of course, war was approaching. Small wonder then that François, as his name suggests, the typical Frenchman, had revolted against his destiny, killing Valentin, the representative, as Jules Berry had also been in Renoir's Le Crime de Monsieur Lange (1936), of a dissolute and repressive bourgeoisie. Small wonder too that the narrative, brooding and inward-looking with its three increasingly urgent flashbacks (three months ago, one month ago, and the night before when François had killed Valentin), leads implacably to suicide as the only option.

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