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Les Enfants du Paradis DVD

Marcel Carne, 1945

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Film Details

Directed by Marcel Carne

Produced in 1945

Main Language - French with English subtitles

Countries & Regions - European Film, French Film

MovieMail's Review

A richly romantic masterpiece from the Golden Age of French Cinema that was voted the best French film of all time in 1995. Nothing has altered its status since, says David Parkinson.

Filmed during the Nazi Occupation and released shortly after the Liberation, this witty, thrilling and compelling evocation of 1830s Paris was an act of resistance that came to embody the spirit of France. Real-life fugitives, collaborators and resistance fighters worked alongside each other on the sets in Nice and Paris and their actor counterparts could be found in the bustle of a theatrical quarter where illusion was often as treacherous as it was enchanting.

The film's majesty is enhanced in this major new first screened at the Cannes Film Festival; its monochrome imagery shimmers with a first-seen freshness, and Joseph Kosma's unforgettable score throbs with ardour.

Jacques Prévert's scenario is epically melodramatic, inspired as much by the crimes of thief Pierre-François Lacenaire as the artistry of actor Frédérick Lemaître and mime Baptiste Deburau (Jean-Louis Barrault) - three men enamoured of carnival performer Garance (Arletty), who is protected by the arrogant aristocratic dandy De Montray. However, such is the finesse of Marcel Carné's direction and the authenticity of Alexandre Trauner's studio recreation of the teeming Boulevard du Temple that this feels like a slice of poetic reality.

The film was named after the common people who occupied the upper galleries of French theatres and Prévert and Carné packed the scenario with emotive incidents that would register with audiences keen to see their rowdy, subversive selves on the screen again after five years of witnessing Continental Films's Vichy-approved caricatures. Yet everyone watching would have been aware that Pierre Renoir took the role of Jericho the snitch after quisling Robert Le Vigan had fled to Germany and that Arletty could not attend the premiere as her romance with a Luftwaffe officer had brought about her disgrace.

Despite the spectacle, the picture also has an intimacy that is typified by Barrault's heart-breaking Pierrot act, which reinforces the key notion that life and art are inextricably linked.

Impeccable in every detail, this was voted the best French film of all time during the 1995 centenary of cinema and nothing has altered its status since.

David Parkinson on 23rd March 2012
Author of 222 reviews

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Film Description

Les Enfants du Paradis is simply one of the most celebrated films in cinema history. A richly romantic masterpiece from the Golden Age of French Cinema, it's set in the world of the popular theatre and the criminal underworld of 19th century Paris, where four men - a mime-artist, an actor, an aristocrat and a criminal - compete for the affections of the beautiful and free-spirited courtesan, Garance (Arletty). As the melodrama unfolds, we are treated to one of cinema's great love stories in a captivating tale of passion, deception and murder.

Voted by the French Film Academy as 'The Best French Film Ever Made'.

DVD Details

Certificate: PG

Publisher: Second Sight

Length: 181 mins

Aspect ratio: 4:3

Format: DVD B&W

Region: 2

Released: 18th September 2000

Cat No: 2NDVD3008

Subtitles: English Forced

DVD Extras

  • Original trailer.

Film Stills

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