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Les Enfants du Paradis (1945) [DVD]

33 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Arletty, Jean-Louis Barrault, Pierre Brasseur, Pierre Renoir, María Casares
  • Directors: Marcel Carné
  • Format: PAL, Mono, Full Screen, Black & White, Subtitled
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Second Sight
  • DVD Release Date: 25 Sept. 2000
  • Run Time: 183 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000558Y9
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 20,212 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Classic French drama following the ill-fated love of a mime artist and a sometime actress in 1840s Paris. When Baptiste (Jean-Louis Barrault) comes to the rescue of Garance (Arletty) when she is falsely accused of shoplifting, it is the beginning of an obsession that will have a profound effect on his life. Unhappily for Baptiste, the beautiful Garance has three equally determined suitors: Fréderick (Pierre Brasseur), an actor, Pierre François (Marcel Herrand), a thief, and the aristocratic Édouard (Louis Salou). The lives of the four men become intertwined as they pursue Garance, with increasingly dangerous consequences for all...


A film which regularly charts high in critics' polls of the best films of all time, director Marcel Carné and screenwriter Jacques Prévert's masterpiece Les Enfants du Paradis is as solid a landmark in French film history as the Eiffel Tower is on the Parisian landscape. And at 187 minutes running time, it's a massy edifice indeed, built from a rambunctious cast of characters--ranging from pickpockets and prostitutes to aristocrats and actors--whose lives intersect around the Theatre des Funambules, a popular Parisian theatre on the Boulevard du Crime, during the 1840s. (The title refers to the poor who can only afford seats in the upper galleries of the theatre.)

The heart of the plot is a love story between mime artiste Baptiste (Jean-Louis Barrault) and streetwalker Garance (the magnificent, sand-paper-voiced Arletty). When Garance is falsely accused of pickpocketing, Baptiste provides a mimed alibi for her to the police (one of the film's most famous set pieces). The rose she later throws him in gratitude sets off a romantic obsession, one of several that structure the film, as do love triangles, duels, and tortured confessions of feeling.

Thematically, Les Enfant du Paradis gnaws over typically French cinematic preoccupations: illusion and reality, the nature of performance, the indomitable spirit of the proletariat and so on, all made the more charged and poignant when you know the film was shot during the Nazi occupation. (One actor, Robert Le Vigan, was reportedly a Nazi collaborator and disappeared during the filming under mysterious circumstances and so had to be replaced by Pierre Renoir.) --Leslie Felperin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 62 people found the following review helpful By J. E. Holden on 20 Nov. 2003
Format: VHS Tape
'Oh Garance! Tu ne m'aime pas!' Is just about the saddest line ever spoken in cinema.
Four characters, (loosely based on historical French figures) vye for the eye of the beautiful and serene Garance. The four stereotypical male character types that have continuously made great cinema over the last century. The cold millionaire aristocrat, the genius criminal, the amiable noble adventurous lover and finally our tragic hero, the romantic artist. Each seek her in their own way, yet each selfishly encroaches her formidable freedom with their tragic flaws. The romantic needs her exlusively and needs her unconditional love, the aristocratic will only ever see her as an object, he will never 'love as a poor man'. The lover is too full of dramatic hyperbole for her truthful sensibility and the criminal can never love, for his dark humour and excessive intelligence can not grasp its simplicity. For it is true, 'L'amour, c'est simple.' but it is also tragical and farcical. This film does justice to this fact on a grand and beautiful scale and certainly deserves its plaudits as one of the top ten best films of all time.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By M. Warburton on 4 Dec. 2006
Format: DVD
Simply the greatest French Film of all time. Made in Paris whilst Paris was still under Nazi occupation this quite beautiful Film is wonderfully cast, acted, written and directed. Many great French films can lay claim to being the greatest, but Les Enfants Du Paradis is for me the greatest of all time because it is the richest, most humane & powerful. Let the human emotions of the French Theatre it is set in and around wash over you as you marvel at the performances and the characters journey's. I can't tell you too much as that would be give away what is a gift of a Film. If you like, love or are curious about French cinema, start with this Film and you'll not be disappointed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Geoffrey H. Thorne on 20 Mar. 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
To be honest, I was rather scared of seeing this film. Its reputation, plus the fact that I did not really know many of the actors and that there are scenes of mime in it all conspired against my watching it. Suddenly, on reaching an advanced age, I thought that I should watch the classic French films and, eventually I plucked up courage to watch "Les Enfants du Paradis". By that time I had seen Arletty in "Hotel du Nord" and "Le Jour Se Leve", Pierre Brasseur in "Quai des Brumes", Jean-Louis Barrault in "La Ronde" and Marcel Herrand in "Fanfan La Tulipe", and had seen a few Marcel Carne/Jacques Prevert films. I was a little optimistic about the film but was quite unprepared for the experience of being totally enthralled from the very first minute until the last. Those reviewers who say that, although 3 hours 15 minutes long, the film does not feel at all long could not be more right. This is a display of consummate acting by all concerned. Watching Arletty as Garance you can see why she was a legend of French cinema. Pierre Brasseur is truly fascinating as the arrogant actor, Lemaitre. Jean-Louis Barrault as Baptiste quite simply makes mime an art. I should, however, be wrong not to mention a now largely forgotten actor who, when he is on screen, you cannot take your eyes off him. That is Marcel Herrand as Lacenaire, the murderer, thief, playright. His is a performance which absolutely fascinates, whilst repelling (rather the sort of ability that Jules Berry had). The story holds your attention throughout and covers the complete spectrum of human emotions. If you do not watch this film, you are missing one of the great cinematic experiences. Best French film of all time? Certainly. Best film ever made? Quite probably. At least a very compelling argument would be made by anyone who has seen it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Keith M TOP 500 REVIEWER on 17 Nov. 2011
Format: DVD
I must admit to being absolutely gobsmacked to see that there were only 13 reviews(!) of this cinematic masterpiece. Les Enfants du Paradis is Marcel Carne's 1945 epic love story set in the mid-19th century based around the Parisian theatre Les Funambules. It would be in (or very close to) my top ten films of all time. By the way, Les Enfants du Paradis, literally Children of Paradise, is the term used to refer to theatre-goers in the top tier ('the gods') of the theatre.

The story centres around the love story between Garance (played by the wonderful Arletty) and Baptiste (a theatre mime played by Jean-Louis Barrault), and also features magnificent performances by Pierre Brasseur as the extravagant actor Frederick Lemaitre, and by Marcel Herrand as the evil Lacenaire. This is a classic story of betrayal, tragedy and murder, but all tempered with marvellous humour (particularly from Brasseur) and theatrical splendour. The production values of this film are second-to-none, which is all the more miraculous given that France was under Nazi occupation at the time!

This is a film which stands (and, I would argue, requires) multiple viewings, and because of the lavish and spectacular nature of the cinematography benefits immensely from being seen on a cinema screen. The crowd scenes in the so-called Boulevard du Crime are particularly impressive and serve as the backdrop for the film's closing sequence as Baptiste and Garance are separated forever by the movements of the crowd - undoubtedly one of the greatest sequences in cinema.
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