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Saturday Night Cinema: Children of Paradise (Les Enfants du Paradis) (1946)

Saturday, October 8, 2016 17:01
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Tonight’s Saturday night cinema selection is the French masterpiece, , arguably the most famous and beloved film ever made in France. “Made during World War II in defiance of the collaborationist Vichy regime’s restrictions, and premiered in Paris a few months after the Liberation, “Children of Paradise” came to be seen as a symbol of the unquenchable and distinctive quality of French culture.’

To luxuriate in the film’s 3-hour, 10-minute length is to experience this masterpiece as it hasn’t been experienced since the day it opened.
The atmosphere, the story and acting and the direction all make a true cinema classic.

Set in the Parisian theatrical world of the 1840s, Jacques Prevert’s screenplay concerns four men in love with the mysterious Garance (Arletty). Each loves Garance in his own fashion, but only the intentions of sensitive mime-actor Deburau (Jean-Louis Barrault) are entirely honorable; as a result, it is he who suffers most, hurdling one obstacle after another in pursuit of an evidently unattainable goal. In the stylized fashion of 19th-century French drama, many grand passions are spent during the film’s totally absorbing 195 minutes. The film was produced under overwhelmingly difficult circumstances during the Nazi occupation of France, and many of the participants/creators were members of the Maquis, so the movie’s existence itself is somewhat miraculous. Children of Paradise has gone on to become one of the great romantic classics of international cinema. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The New Yorker:  Poetry with a capital “P,” sprinkled with fairy dust. Marcel Carné’s hyperdramatic romantic fresco, from 1945, of the lives and loves of actors in the populist and rowdy Paris of the early nineteenth century unleashes a crew of declaiming performers among massive and magnificent sets teeming with extras. The story, loosely based on historical characters, concerns the aging, flighty urban waif Garance (Arletty), who loves the brilliant mime Baptiste Deburau (Jean-Louis Barrault), settles for the gifted actor Frédérick Lemaître (Pierre Brasseur), encounters the master criminal Lacenaire (Marcel Herrand), and marries the wealthy Count de Montray (Louis Salou)—all impeccable as types, like engravings come to life. The swarming city scenes, showing exultant carnival throngs and cheering theatre audiences (the title refers to the denizens of the upper balconies), have more presence than the stars’ snappy or snarled or plaintive delivery of the script’s arch, hollow aphorisms. Early plein-air sequences of stealth and seduction among terrifying crowds have an impressive energy, but the swoony paean to the theatre (which comes to life only in Lemaître’s improvised burlesque of a stuffy melodrama) yokes the cinema’s mighty mechanisms to a frilly and sentimental craftsmanship of vast diligence and slight inspiration. The show is stolen by Pierre Renoir, as the ragman Jericho, who goes by many other names, and Gaston Modot, as a wily beggar. In French.


Watch Children of Paradise (1945, Marchel Carné) 1/2 in Drama | View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

Part II


Watch Cildren of Paradise (1945, Marchel Carné) 2/2 in Drama | View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

“Movie review: ‘Children of Paradise’ is critic’s personal favorite,” |By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic, June 01, 2012,
Marcel Carne’s 1945 French romantic drama is a transformative cinematic experience.
To see Marcel Carné’s “Children of Paradise” under any circumstances is to be transported and transformed by cinema. To see it in the version showing at Laemmle’s Royal in West Los Angeles and Playhouse 7 in Pasadena is, if possible, even more special.

Written by Carné’s frequent collaborator Jacques Prévert, this 1945 film is more than the acme of a style known as poetic realism, it is often considered to be the greatest French film ever made. Called by critic James Agee “close to perfection … guaranteed to make you very happily drunk,” it is also the title I most often cite when asked to pick an all-time personal favorite.

Because of its legendary status, “Children of Paradise” (“Les enfants du paradis” in the original French) became the first motion picture to benefit from a 4K digital restoration of its original negative. Though digital prints can seem overly precise, this one is truly warm and welcoming, and to luxuriate in the film’s 3-hour, 10-minute length is to experience this masterpiece as it hasn’t been experienced since the day it opened.

Set in the teeming environs of 1830s Paris, the “Paradise” title refers to those who inhabit the highest balconies (and the cheapest seats) in the myriad theaters of that city’s Boulevard du Crime (the nickname of Boulevard du Temple). These spectators are the equivalent of Shakespeare’s groundlings, those whose love of theatrical spectacle is in inverse proportion to their ability to pay for it.
Movie review: ‘Children of Paradise’ is critic’s personal favorite
Marcel Carne’s 1945 French romantic drama is a transformative cinematic experience.
June 01, 2012|By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic

To see Marcel Carné’s “Children of Paradise” under any circumstances is to be transported and transformed by cinema. To see it in the version showing at Laemmle’s Royal in West Los Angeles and Playhouse 7 in Pasadena is, if possible, even more special.

Written by Carné’s frequent collaborator Jacques Prévert, this 1945 film is more than the acme of a style known as poetic realism, it is often considered to be the greatest French film ever made. Called by critic James Agee “close to perfection … guaranteed to make you very happily drunk,” it is also the title I most often cite when asked to pick an all-time personal favorite.

Because of its legendary status, “Children of Paradise” (“Les enfants du paradis” in the original French) became the first motion picture to benefit from a 4K digital restoration of its original negative. Though digital prints can seem overly precise, this one is truly warm and welcoming, and to luxuriate in the film’s 3-hour, 10-minute length is to experience this masterpiece as it hasn’t been experienced since the day it opened.

Set in the teeming environs of 1830s Paris, the “Paradise” title refers to those who inhabit the highest balconies (and the cheapest seats) in the myriad theaters of that city’s Boulevard du Crime (the nickname of Boulevard du Temple). These spectators are the equivalent of Shakespeare’s groundlings, those whose love of theatrical spectacle is in inverse proportion to their ability to pay for it.

Although the film has much to say about the world of theater, it is not about performance but rather the exaltations and mortifications of romantic love. Bursting with life and spirit, the film explores love both requited and unreturned, passionate and cool.

Its visual richness and splendid dialogue, when added to the humanity and complexity of its relationships, makes this one of the few films that has the durability and emotional texture of a great 19th century novel. As a piece of romantic/dramatic cinema, its peers are few, its superiors simply nonexistent.

The woman at the center of all the excitement is Garance (played by Arletty), and we meet her up to her neck in a tub of water, posing as the Naked Truth in a Boulevard du Crime sideshow. Beautiful, enigmatic, capricious and unashamed, Garance is the fulcrum around which the plot turns. No less than four men, many based on real-life characters, come to consider her the exquisite woman of their dreams.

There is the chilling Lacenaire (Marcel Herrand), a cold-eyed and confident criminal/philosopher, and the equally self-centered, ramrod-straight Count de Montray (Louis Salou), one of the richest men in France. From the theater comes Frédérick Lemaître (Pierre Brasseur), a practiced seducer and the preeminent actor of his day, and, most memorably of all, Baptiste Debureau, the man who revolutionized the art of pantomime.

Jean-Louis Barrault’s legendary performance as the lovelorn Baptiste presents an ultimate romantic dreamer, intoxicated by Garance but passionately loved in turn by the heartbreakingly devoted Nathalie (María Casares).

Though the artfully intertwined relationships of this group are the emotional center of “Children of Paradise,” the interplay among many of the supporting characters is just as vividly rendered.

The malevolent rag picker and fence Jéricho (Pierre Renoir, the director’s brother), the softhearted hood Avril (Fabien Loris), the coquettish landlady Madame Hermine (Jeanne Marken), PierrePalau’stirelessly apoplectic theater director — these characters are indispensable in the creation of this unparalleled romantic tapestry.

Making “Children of Paradise’s” success even more impressive is the fact that it was shot, first in Nice and then in Paris, during the harsh German occupation of France. Key creators like art director Alexandre Trauner and composer Joseph Kosma worked in secret because they were Jewish and in hiding. As the end of filming and the end of the war neared, Carné maneuvered to have the film’s premiere take place in a liberated Paris, which, on March 9, 1945, it did.

With this new print available for big screen viewing, “Children of Paradise” is not to be missed.

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