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on 30 March 2015
I have watched the restored version and yes there is improvement in the quality of the film but for me the most important thing is the extra information I am given through the special features which consider the character and the life of director, Marcel Carne, and of the screenwriter and cinephotographers. All of interest. Also analyses of action and character within the fim were educational for me; I had not picked up from the film that Lacenaire was homosexual.Why then does he favour Garance with such attention, to the point of considering the murder of all other suitors?.
This film is my favourite film. I have seen it perhaps 20 times and I find it brilliant in every way. The sets are the most real I have seen in any film, of any genre; the acting is first rate; the script is superb and probes character,to reveal the shallow and the profound, and the development of the plot, and final denouement are quite extraordinary. There's lots of humour within the film too so whatever aspect of film work one is concentrating on, there is much to enjoy. My only gripe - the story hasn't ended. Garance walks away but her lover is dead, although she doesn't know it, so will she leave Paris (which she loves) or will she return to her mime artist, who is the love of her life, notwithstanding his wife and little boy. Another French film with the plot not fully resolved.
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on 17 March 2016
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OK, the 'restoration' isn't perfect, but this set is still the best available option if you want to own this film. And, quite frankly, why wouldn't you? Beautifully scripted, beautifully acted and beautifully directed, this is possibly the most romantic, most uplifting and most French film ever made. There's simply no better way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon than to snuggle down on a comfy sofa with this and a large box of chocs. Even if you think 3-hour black and white subtitled films aren't really your thing, especially if they feature extended sequences of mime, all I can say is.. prepare to be astonished! I honestly think it's humanly impossible to watch this film and not absolutely adore it.
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on 12 February 2013
This remains one of the best movies ever made. The restored edition (contrary to the opinion of one reviewer) is a huge improvement on the old, poor-quality version and represents a vastly better viewing experience which is considerably enhanced by the informative documentaries etc. included on the 2nd disc.
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Initial impressions were that Les Enfants du Paradis looked and sounded superb. It is hard to believe that this sumptuous and ambitious film was made during the second World War, under the Nazi occupation.

The plot, centres around the courtesan Garance and her four would-be suitors in the first half of the 19th century. An aristocrat, actor, mime artist and thug are all besotted by her and compete for her attention. Garance dallies with each of them, but seems curiously disengaged and her almost otherworldly aloofness ultimately leads to the melodramatic staples of crimes of passion and tragedy.

By today's standards, the acting appears rather quaint and stilted but, after a while, I found this added to the film's magical, almost dreamlike quality. Scenes at the Funambules theatre in particular are wonderfully evocative of times long passed, whereas the theme of unrequited love remains timeless.

It's a very long movie, at over 3 hours, and does demand some stamina to sit through to the end. Overall though, Les Enfants du Paradis is memorable and stunningly beautiful in places. Many scenes will stay with you for a long time. One mime scene, in particular, is perhaps the single most iconic French movie moment ever. Plenty of valuable extras include interviews and the restoration process.

Will not be to everybody's taste, but recommended to anyone with an interest in classic movie history and who can truly appreciate what a wondrous medium cinema was in the pre-CGI days!
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on 23 September 2014
Since I first saw this film when it first came to London I have watched it many times . The mime artist is one of the best . Now I want to see it again!!
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on 3 January 2016
Held back from release until the liberation of France in 1945, this remarkable, deeply moving ‘must-see’ film – set in the glittering world of the 19th century and made in 1943 by a team of Jewish artisans right under the noses of the Gestapo - uses the foil of a courtesan (kept woman) Garance – who has several ‘life choices’ presented before her from four men who compete for her affections, to tell a wonderful story about the intertwined lives of society and the people that shape a society.

The whole film has you on the edge of your seat from the opening moments – and the fabulous performances from the mime artist chasing Garance’s affections just blows you away. As to the cinematography – it is breathtaking. Here we see the streets of ‘old’ Paris and the behaviour of people of different classes cleverly contrasted in a world of theatre enjoyed by ALL classes.

In the theatre we see the juxtaposition of the rich and famous occupying the LOWER part of the theatre contrasted against the LOWER classes towering high above the elite occupying the seats up in the ‘gods’ of the theatre and enjoying a better experience than their snobbish ‘holier than thou’ comrades and companions forever ‘shushing’ the people occupying the upper tiers to be quiet – and so the contrataunts begin.

But then dear reader the message goes much deeper (even deeper than that) as we enter the backstage world of the theatre – a menacing sinister world full of petty jealousies; cat fights; and dark deeds where we meet and exchange familiarity with characters from every walk of life that paint every aspect of the ‘inner reality’ of the human condition.

And if you think for one moment that YOU can hide YOUR ‘inner reality’ and ‘hidden agendas’ – think again – for what you will see reflected right back at YOU dear reader is YOU in all of your frightened fragility and frailty failing to discard your charades and delusions and ‘seizing the moment’ without fear or regret the moment that the moment appears – or remain trapped - forever gyring (screwing yourself into the floor) like a slithy tove (delinquent child) living your life as a ‘lie’ and failing to be true to yourself and everyone around you because you chose instead to (metaphorically) live a miserable life in filth and squalor and die of starvation rather than take positive action to improve your lot and take charge of your life.

The amazing (and inevitable) ending to the film states that there is no such thing as ‘destiny’ – you seize the 'bull' (fate) by the horns and make your own destiny – and if you ‘mess up’ you take instant positive action to rectify the situation for the better, rather than wallow in a sea of self-inflicted troubles and live with the consequences.

This is one film that will have you and all of those who are privileged to view it with you talking about for months – if not YEARS.

Bring a towel – a box of tissues just doesn’t cut it.

Happy viewing.
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on 1 September 2016
Best crowds scenes ever, better even than the 1930 Hunchback of Notre Dame. Even none speaking characters have business to do behind speakers. The mime artiste is superb. But it is all too tying at 182 minutes to take at one sitting. If only it had been in colour!
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on 20 April 2013
in my personal 'initial top ten' if there can ever really be such a thing... a film i frequently return to as it was seminal in my personal development with film culture... i bought this version for the extras and again the criterion version also for its alternate extras... others that would also be included in this idea of a topten seminal experience are 'un chant d'amour' 'orphee' 'the innocents' 'letter from an unknown woman' 'vertigo' 'the trial' 'despair' and everything else by rainer werner fassbinder... and the the films of herzog, welles, antonioni, and back to marcel carne's other films and poetic realism from the 30's and onto all the other weavings in film culture...
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on 28 November 2012
The accompanying DVD explaining the background to the film greatly enhanced the viewing experience. The film is very French and very 1940s but, when you get into it, it is absolutely magnificent.
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