Thursday, August 13, 2009

Children of Paradise @ Charles Theatre this week

The Charles Theatre’s Revival Series will screen a new print of LES ENFANTS DU PARADIS this coming week. Don’t miss it.

Saturday, August 15 at 11 AM (Please note the earlier-than-usual starting time);
Monday, August 17 at 7 PM;
Thursday, August 20 at 9 PM.

CHILDREN OF PARADISE Les enfants du paradis. (1945 Marcel Carné) Arletty, Jean-Louis Barrault, Pierre Brasseur, Pierre Renoir, María Casares, Marcel Herrand, Louis Salou. In French with English subtitles. 190m.

A fresco conceived on a majestic scale, Children of Paradise sweeps its audience back to the 1820s, painting the detail of a world obsessed with both theater and crime. The original screenplay by Jacques Prévert drew its inspiration from such colorful personalities of the period as Jean-Gaspard Deburau, the innovative mime; Pierre-François Lacenaire, a murderer who went to the scaffold; and Frédérick Lemaître, a celebrated actor for whom both Alexandre Dumas and Victor Hugo wrote plays. Jean-Louis Barrault, fascinated by the character of Deburau (Baptiste in the film), urged Prévert to develop a story around him. The result was a tightly plotted narrative dominated by the fictional figure of Garance (played by the inimitable Arletty), a woman who arouses the passion and envy of the film’s four leading men....

Perhaps the film’s greatest achievement lies in its evocation of a vanished epoch, a “lost paradise” of Proustian proportions. The costumes and sets by Alexandre Trauner and the music of Joseph Kosma contribute to a vivid, teeming environment that enables Children of Paradise to transcend the theatrical circles in which it moves. Both men, incidentally, had to work anonymously to conceal their Jewish origins from the authorities.

One of the richest embodiments of romantic agony in 20th-century art, Children of Paradise still rules the seas of French cinema like some proud galleon, the ultimate exemplar of classical filmmaking, great acting, and a perfectly constructed screenplay. For many critics, it remains the finest French film ever made.
-Peter Cowie. Full Review

Children of Paradise is the high-water mark of the Golden Age of French cinema. -Brian Stonehill


This lushly romantic creation, directed by Marcel Carné and written by Jacques Prévert, is a one-of-a-kind film, a sumptuous epic about the relations between theatre and life. -Pauline Kael