sábado, 26 de septiembre de 2009

La Jour Se Leve

Francois (Jean Gabin) has just murdered a man and has locked himself in his room, shooting anyone who comes in and having an old-fashioned stand-off with the police. As he ponders the short time he has of freedom, he reflects on how he got to where he is: how he met the dog trainer Valentin (Jules Berry), the man he’s just killed. And how he meet the two women in Valentin’s life: the young Francoise (Jacqueline Laurent) who is loved by, and loves Francois, and Valentin’s trainer, Clara (Arletty) who is in love with Francois but he doesn’t return the love. Along the way there are more twists and turns than in a Mexican telenovela.

Known as a prime example of a genre known as poetic realism, it was created by director Marcel Carne and written by Jacques Prevert, and it was their first huge international hit. The story, as you see, is very simple, so simple it’s brilliant: no complicated plot points, or unnecessary characters and subplots. It’s all about the main theme, and the emotions of the leads who are going through it. This movie features two of my favorite French actors: First, we must talk about Jean Gabin. To me, when I think French working class, I think Gabin. Of course, the real Gabin was anything but humble, but he was able to pull them off brilliantly, and this is probably his best performance. He’s rough but romantic. His best scene comes when we can clearly see his sanity breaking down as he’s screaming at the people who are asking him to surrender to the police. The last shot of the film is tragic, but expected, in a very poetic way. Arletty also stars, and she’s doing her usual beautiful-but-tragic schtick she did in many of her films. What can I say, she was good at it!

So yes, this is a perfect drama, and a five-star picture. If more soap operas were this good I’d probably watch them. On a curious note, this movie was later remade in Hollywood as “The Long Night”, starring Henry Fonda, Barbara Bel Geddes and my favorite actor, Vincent Price. Sadly, even with this cast, the film is completely inferior to the French one, and RKO knew it. They bought up every film of the Carne original to destroy it so that nobody remembered it’s existence. Thankfully they failed, and nobody remembers The Long Night. Carne went on to team up again with writer Prevert and actress Arletty in their best collaboration together, Children Of Paradise.

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