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In Paris Parks (1954)

| Short
An unscripted cinema verité allowing us a few minutes on what it is like at a Paris park--children playing, going on rides, feeding the animals at a petting zoo, watching a puppet show, etc. We also see men playing cards and croquet.

Director:

Shirley Clarke
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An unscripted cinema verité allowing us a few minutes on what it is like at a Paris park--children playing, going on rides, feeding the animals at a petting zoo, watching a puppet show, etc. We also see men playing cards and croquet.

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USA

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Paris through the eyes of children
7 July 2008 | by Chris_DockerSee all my reviews

I've only come across two films by Shirley Clarke focussing on children. One is her film made in aid of impoverished and malnourished third world children, A Scary Time. This one, made six years earlier, is more lyrical. Almost a 'city symphony' of children playing in Paris parks.

Paris was a city that Clarke spent considerable time in and this is maybe her tribute to it through the simple eyes of children at play. And sometimes, not just children. We see young and old at play in various ways.

In the context of Clarke's overall approach to film, it maybe emphasises her feeling that we all have to learn to 'play' to be creative and experience creativity (for her, this was especially true with video – although In Paris Parks was filmed on 16mm).

The shortcoming of the film is that such reflections that might be made in the context of her overall work are not particularly self-explanatory in this short itself. Kids on hobby-horses. Older people playing cards. Children feeding animals at the zoo – a brown bear – pigs. A Punch and Judy scene. I didn't easily relate to the desultory subject matter and noticed several other members of the audience seemingly feeling irritated.

The film is mostly, at least to this viewer, of interest by comparing it to her New York cityscapes, such as Brussels Loops. Filmmaker DeeDee Halleck called it, "a lyrical look at gesture and movement in a public landscape." While some of Clarke's films are rather difficult and aimed at the connoisseur, In Paris Parks plays like a loving home video of the capital's children. And maybe adults who have remembered how to be children at heart.


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