- Actors: Arletty, Jean-Louis Barrault, Pierre Brasseur, Pierre Renoir, María Casares
- Directors: Marcel Carné
- Writers: Jacques Prévert
- Producers: Adrien Remaugé, Raymond Borderie
- 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 (36 customer reviews)
- ASIN: B0000558Y9
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 53,431 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
Les Enfants du Paradis (1945) [DVD]
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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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
After all these years, it's still amazing. Just utterly amazing. If you know nothing about it, watch it. If you know your cinema history and know all about it, watch it again.Published 4 months ago by Den Tarthurdent
Les Enfants du Paradis is one of the most magical films, set in the 19th century but being both timeless and completely in the present moment. Read morePublished 13 months ago by schumann_bg
'Classic' of French cinema. Of its time and slow by modern standards.Published 14 months ago by Brownshoe
An incredible film and perhaps my favourite film of all time. Set aside a full evening for this one, without interruptions (it's long) and really give it the attention it deserves.Published 19 months ago by carol
Marcel Carnes epic is generally voted the greatest French movie of all time and it's not hard to see why. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Brendan Keane
I love this film (these films) and was buying as a replacement for my much missed last copy. This five star rating is a reflection of the seller. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Orlando
This has always been my favourite French film which I fell for when still at school. I was sorry in a way to find it a bit less enticing now It is a bit dated but I just love the... Read morePublished on 30 Dec. 2014 by Ivan's Grandma