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61 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars L'amour, c'est simple!
'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...
Published on 20 Nov. 2003 by J. E. Holden

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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars DVD Les Enfants du Paradis
Having previously seen this film and enjoyed it, I was perplexed by being unable to access the 3rd and 4th episodes. I do not know if this is a fault on the disc or in my DVD player.
Published on 5 May 2012 by philomath


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61 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars L'amour, c'est simple!, 20 Nov. 2003
By 
J. E. Holden (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Les Enfants Du Paradis [VHS] (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
5.0 out of 5 stars A French masterpiece., 4 Dec. 2006
By 
M. Warburton (UK) - See all my reviews
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest French film?, 20 Mar. 2012
By 
Mr. Geoffrey H. Thorne (London, England) - See all my reviews
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Greatest Films Ever Made, 17 Nov. 2011
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best film ever made, 28 Dec. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Les Enfants Du Paradis [VHS] (VHS Tape)
It is 7 years since I last saw this film and it is time to see it again. I shall post my order today. A deeply moving and tragic film, of huge scope. Please take the time to see it. I think that you will never forget it. The closing scene is one of the most tragic in all cinema.
Arletty is beautifully seductive as the heroine and one can quite understand why the hero, Jean-Louis Tritignant, would leave a wife and child whom he adored for the chance of her love. But the real stars are 'les enfants du paradis' themselves - the audience in the 'Gods' of the popular theatre 'Les Funambules' (sp?) where Jean-Louis is the mime artist.
Sounds gripping? Probably not. But please don't let this review put you off. Nothing in cinema is as great as this film, IMHO.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Theatres of life, 10 Feb. 2014
By 
GlynLuke (York UK) - See all my reviews
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This is what cinema can do.
Such joy to see this magnificent film again after too many years away from its unique, bustling charms.
What always surprises me (though it shouldn`t) is how wonderfully acted the whole thing is, with performances hovering between naturalism and melodrama - appropriate for this particular film - and at least two sublime portrayals: one by the great mime, actor and man of the theatre Jean-Louis Barrault as the mostly white-faced mime artist Baptiste, whose hopelessly romantic stage persona is reflected in his real, forlorn love for Garance, played with serene perfection by Arletty, an actress who was then already forty-five, yet who looks both youthful and ageless, both Helen of Troy and Circe.
There is also a beautifully detailed performance by Pierre Brasseur as - in the long Part One of the film - the aspiring actor Lemaitre (both his and Barrault`s roles are based on real 18th century actors) who becomes, by Part Two, the toast of Paris. His boundless, bounding energy and optimism is catching, and the film is lifted even higher whenever he appears.
This is a film about theatre, and the different kinds of performance on stage and in daily life. The main players are in some way involved in theatre, but there are petty thieves, landladies, aristocrats and many other types represented too.
Spanish actress Maria Casares is superb as Nathalie, the woman who loves Baptiste, and her last scene is heart-rending. (To say more would spoil it for newcomers.)
Marcel Carne`s direction is something of a miracle in itself, with crowd scenes genuinely and excitingly crowded, alongside intimate scenes in lodging houses or dressing rooms, every moment of the film bursting with life, and all in glorious, inventively lit black & white.
There are so many felicitous moments that I can only urge you to see this literally marvellous film for yourself.
The dream of a screenplay by Jacques Prevert is pretty much flawless, and unlike almost anything written for any other film. There are lyrical passages of dialogue which seem at first unnaturally poetic, but are exactly right for the particular moment in the story. The whole film, as I`ve implied, treads a line between the naturalistic and the poeticised, yet never topples into anything less than believable. Prevert deserves much of the credit for this, as do the director and actors involved in this masterpiece of masterpieces.
This is, unreservedly, a very great work of cinema - and, what`s more, it`s hugely enjoyable fun too!

Essential, and joyfully recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Film of two halves, 15 Feb. 2012
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Carne shows his virtuosity and versatility: Part 1 explores a variety of filmic and theatrical conventions, styles and idioms ... everyone is both performer and audience (even the audience in the theatre performs for the camera); Garance performs only as herself but is made as an audience by each of her men; like Mona Lisa she "always" smiles - meaning left for the viewer to determine. Part 2, more consistent stylistically, extrapolates consequences of relationships set up in Part 1, each destructive except in the case of Frederick, the only one who benefits by learning how to play Othello. Tragic for all others. Woman as object of men's gaze, becomes what they wish, destroys them all except one of the professional actors. Brilliant, altogether brilliant!
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious., 17 Mar. 2004
This review is from: Les Enfants Du Paradis [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Full of pathos,love, and tragedy yet with moments of humour. Wonderfully drawn characters, finely acted against the vibrant backdrop of 19th century French theatre and street-life. Visually very beautiful, you will never tire of this one and will always find something new to appreciate.Well worth the investment.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply breathtaking, 14 Aug. 2009
By 
Ruth Horsfall - See all my reviews
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I will never forget the first time I saw this film in the cinema about 15 years ago - it was simply breathtaking, and remains the most memorable movie experience of my life. As a rule, I'm not a fan of long movies, nor having to read subtitles, and mimes fill me with horror. However, I am so thankful that I got past my movie prejudices and saw this film.
The massive scale and beauty of this superb love tale, with the incredible, sublime acting of Arletty and Jean-Louis Barrault, combine to make this one of the truly great films of all time.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage cinematic champagne, 5 Feb. 2009
By 
Guy Mannering (Maidenhead, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
It has never ceased to amaze me that so many of the countries involved in World War 2 managed, in the middle of the conflict, to find the money, time and resources to produce lavish cinematic spectacles. In Britain, as Hitler's flying bombs were dropping, we churned out Caesar and Cleopatra; Italy produced the impressive Iron Crown based on a mediaeval fable, while the Germans produced Baron Munchausen, Titanic and Kolberg (perhaps the most extravagant of them all) and France Les Enfants du Paradis. I've watched them all and more or less enjoyed them. But only one of them have I watched about a dozen times and would be happy to watch again and that's Les Enfants du Paradis.There are sufficient glowing reviews here as befits this great movie and I don't intend to add to the superlatives, merely to relate some personal experiences.

Most people fall under the spell of Les Enfants du Paradis, a few do not. My mother never warmed to the movie and my young nephew can't understand why I should have watched this rambling 3 hour beauty about a dozen times instead of say Hostel or Saws 1,2&3. I could try to explain to him that the movie has one of the finest casts ever assembled for a motion picture, the perfect cast in fact, and that notwithstanding the great length of the movie it never bores me for a second. But I think I'd be wasting my time.

I first saw Les Enfants du Paradis in the 1960s at the Academy Cinema in London where the complete 188 minute version was being shown for the first time in the UK. I remember how the audience convulsed with laughter when the rival acting clans at the Funambules theatre bring chaos to the stage with a glorious punch up; and likewise when Brasseur as the great actor Frederic Lemaitre, tired of the rubbishy melodramas he's forced to appear in, turns the latest one into a knockabout farce. In the 70s I got to see the movie again in a suburban Paris cinema where the audience appeared to be composed of mostly student types. They laughed a lot too, but they also did something I've never experienced in a cinema before or since. When the world-weary femme fatale Garance (brilliantly played by Arletty) is falsely accused by the police of complicity in a crime, she engages in sarcastic repartee with her tormentors and, realising she is about to be arrested, produces the calling card of a rich aristocrat and admirer and tells the police to "kindly inform this person that a grave miscarriage of justice is about to take place." The calling card is her trump card. As the on-film curtain started to descend to mark the end of part 1, with Arletty gazing on the hapless coppers with a look of serene triumph, the young audience broke into spontaneous and prolonged applause. They knew the cinematic equivalent of vintage champagne when they saw it.

Much has been written about this movie but I think critics and admirers have a tendency to read too many subtexts into it and to find deep meaning, a meditation on this that or the other, even a parable of the French Resistance, which the movie doesn't really bear. If it carries any message it is surely the destructive power of love for all the relationships bring only fleeting happiness and ultimately frustration and misery (who can forget the poignant cry of Baptiste's wife at the end "What of me ? What of me?") But I think perhaps it's best to regard this movie simply as a superbly crafted, superbly written and superbly acted romantic melodrama with comic elements and a heart-rending denouement.

On the subject of the movie's ending, as the on-film curtain comes down on the hapless Baptiste submerged in a sea of carnival revellers, the viewer is left wondering about the destinies of the main protagonists. Well, I can tell you about one of them, although it's a tad gruesome. Lacenaire, the dandified criminal was, like Lemaitre, a real historical character. As his actions in the movie inevitably imply, he went to the guillotine, and his head is preserved to this day in a Paris institute.

The quality of this release is excellent but movie buffs might prefer the two disc Criterion Collection edition which has interesting extras and is available from Amazon in the US in region 1 format. Movie buffs may also care to know that the soundtrack with music by Joseph Kosma, together with large chunks of the dialogue, can be obtained on CD under the title "Movies to listen to" on the French Auvidis Travelling label which is usually available through Amazon (although you may have to access Amazon France); an orchestral suite with other Kosma film scores is also available in a modern recording on EMI Classics (CDC 7 54764 2).
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