Scen.: Jean Grémillon. F.: Louis Page, Alain Douarinou, André Bac, Maurice Pecqueux. Mo.: Louisette Hautecœur. Mu.: Jean Grémillon. Su.: Maurice Vareille. Prod.: Coopérative Générale du Cinéma. Pri. pro.: 14 novembre 1945 35mm. D.: 41’. Bn.
Le 6 juin à l’aube is a ‘medical report’ – just as Goya drafted his in the Disasters of War – shot in the ruins of Normandy after the battles of the summer of 1944 with a rigor seldom found in documentaries. The format of the story, alternating between didactic, demonstrative, and explanatory parts and purely emotional ones, the concise treatment of themes, and the liveliness and effectiveness of the music make 6 juin à l’aube an example of clarity and the art of creating narrative structure. In the end we are left with a key moment: the testimony of a simple carpenter Le Guérin, an observer of events and guide to a bomber, who points out the location of German artillery to the allied air force. A man is violently thrown into a world where he cannot understand anything, and, in his own basic words, he recounts his story. The narration of this simple life event draws its tragic force from the systematically sober style in which it is filmed. The same dramatic situation can be found in L’Espoir. Whatever the perfection and seduction of the form of 6 juin à l’aube, which no distributor wanted to see and only a few hundred spectators could, it is clear that the essential activity of a great film director cannot limit itself to just this. The aims of Grémillon, after all, were specific: to show the atrocious conditions of Normandy. The film distribution system was such that this movie and this subject were banned to begin with, regardless of any gratifying success – like an overly lucky adventure – the film received in England and the United States. In short, for Grémillon, after the shooting (September-October 1944, July- August 1945), 6 juin à l’aube was only bittersweet penance.
Pierre Kast, Jean Grémillon, “Revue du Cinéma”, n. 16, Autumn 1948