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Children of Paradise (1945)

Les enfants du paradis (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 15 November 1946 (USA)
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The theatrical life of a beautiful courtesan and the four men who love her.

Director:

Marcel Carné

Writer:

Jacques Prévert (scenario and dialogue)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Arletty ... Claire Reine, dite Garance
Jean-Louis Barrault ... Baptiste Debureau
Pierre Brasseur ... Frédérick Lemaître
Pierre Renoir ... Jéricho
María Casares ... Nathalie (as Maria Casarès)
Gaston Modot ... Fil de Soie
Fabien Loris Fabien Loris ... Avril
Marcel Pérès Marcel Pérès ... Le directeur des Funambules
Palau ... Le régisseur des Funambules (as Pierre Palau)
Etienne Decroux Etienne Decroux ... Anselme Debureau (as Étienne Decroux)
Jane Marken ... Mme Hermine (as Jeanne Marken)
Marcelle Monthil ... Marie
Louis Florencie Louis Florencie ... Le gendarme des 'Adrets'
Habib Benglia Habib Benglia ... L'employé des bains turcs
Rognoni Rognoni ... Le directeur du Grand Théâtre
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Storyline

Strolling indolently around the 1830s vibrant Parisian avenue called the Boulevard du Crime, the graceful and elusive courtesan, Garance, finds herself wrongfully accused of pickpocketing. But, amid a sea of jugglers, sideshow performers, streetwalkers, and crooks, the silently eloquent mime, Baptiste, comes to her rescue, only to hopelessly fall for her. And just like that, love's sweet torture befalls the delicate pantomimist, as the insufferable burden of knowing that the object of his desire can never belong to anyone, will heartlessly haunt him for years to come. Many have tried to seize her heart--the flamboyant thespian, Frédérick Lemaître; the criminal dandy, Pierre-François Lacenaire, and the imperious but loveless Count, Édouard de Montray--however, Garance, after so many barren years, now seems to need only one man. In the end, trusting a frail and modest rose is beautiful but cruel. Is there anyone who can accept the naked truth of an unrequited love? Written by Nick Riganas

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

AT LAST! The Celebrated French Film

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

15 November 1946 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Children of Paradise See more »

Filming Locations:

Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, France See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (edited)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"L'Auberge Des Adrets", the play performed by Frederick in Part 2, was written by Benjamin Antier and performed for the first time in 1823, featuring the real Frederick Lemaitre. ' Robert Macaire' is a character in this play and in another play eponymously titled and performed in 1835. See more »

Goofs

In the outdoor market scene, the amount of food laid out on the tables varies from shot to shot. The reason is that the extras were famished from years of wartime food rationing, and stole food whenever they were not closely watched. See more »

Quotes

Pierre-François Lacenaire: I am well informed. For example, I knew about your return at once. I learned where you were living and with whom.
Garance: Nothing escapes you.
Pierre-François Lacenaire: And I know they've put my angel in a gilded cage.
See more »

Alternate Versions

There are various alternate cuts of this film; the complete version runs 195 minutes and has been restored on video. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Edición Especial Coleccionista: Serpico (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A True Masterpiece
18 April 2005 | by gftbiloxiSee all my reviews

CHILDREN OF PARADISE has a history almost as remarkable as the film itself. Production was just beginning when Paris fell to the Nazis; the work was subsequently filmed piecemeal over a period of several years, much of it during the height of World War II. And yet astonishingly, this elaborate portrait of 19th Century French theatre and the people who swirl through it shows little evidence of the obvious challenges faced by director Marcel Carne, his cast, and his production staff. CHILDREN OF PARADISE seems to have been created inside a blessed bubble of imagination, protected from outside forces by the sheer power of its own being.

The story is at once simple and extremely complex. A mime named Baptiste (Jean-Louis Barrault) falls in love with a street woman known as Garance (Arletty)--and through a series of coincidences and his own love for her finds the inspiration to become one of the most beloved stage artists of his era. But when shyness causes him to avoid consummation of the romance, Baptiste loses Garance to her own circle of admirers--a circle that includes a vicious member of the Paris underworld (Marcel Herrand), rising young actor (Pierre Brasseur), and an egotistical and jealous aristocrat (Louis Salou.) With the passage of time, Garance recognizes that she loves Baptiste as deeply as he does her... but now they must choose between each other and the separate lives they have created for themselves.

While the film is sometimes described as dreamy in tone, it would be more appropriately described as dreamy in tone but extremely earthy in content. Instead of giving us a glamorous portrait of life in theatre, it presents 19th Century theatre as it actually was: dominated by noisy audiences perfectly capable of riot, the actors usually poor and hungry and mixing freely with criminal elements, the desperate struggle to rise above the chaos to create something magical on stage. And while the film is not sexually explicit by any stretch of the imagination, by 1940s standards CHILDREN OF PARADISE was amazingly frank in its portrayal of Garance's often casual liaisons; American cinema would not achieve anything similar for another twenty years.

Everything about the film seems to swirl in a riot of people, costumes, and overlapping relationships, a sort of mad confusion of life lived in a very elemental manner. And the cast carries the director's vision to perfection. Jean-Louis Barrault is both a brilliant actor and brilliant mime, perfectly capturing the strange innocence his role requires; the famous Arletty offers a divine mixture of exhaustion, sensuality, and self-awareness that makes Garance and her fatal attraction uniquely believable. And these performances do not stand in isolation: there is not a false note in the entire cast, the roles of which cover virtually every level of society imaginable.

With its complex story, vivid performances, and stunning set pieces, the film has a longer running time than one might expect, and some may feel it is slow; I myself, however, did not read it as slow so much as precise. It takes the time to allow the characters and their various stories to develop fully in the viewer's mind. I must also note that while a knowledge of theatre history isn't required to fall under the spell of this truly fascinating film, those who do have that background will find it particularly appealing. CHILDREN OF PARADISE is one of the few films that can be viewed repeatedly, one of the truly great masterpieces of cinema. Strongly, strongly recommended.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer


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