Viewers may also be interested to know that three of the four lovers of Garance (Frederick LeMaitre, the actor; Jean-Baptiste Gaspard Debureau, the mime; and Pierre Francois Lacenaire, the criminal) as well as the Funambules theatre and certain of the events in the storyline, are based upon historical fact. The character Garance is more archetypal--love in the eye of each beholder.
Also, both of the male leads, Jean-Louis Barrault (Baptiste) and Pierre Brasseur (Frederick), strongly identified with the historical personages they were playing--so much so that they admitted they felt they were living rather than acting their roles.
For the curious, Jill Forbes' book, Les Enfants du Paradis (published by BFI Classics and available through Amazon), provides a great deal of fascinating information about the making and meanings of this film.
The story is at once simple and extremely complex. A mime named Baptiste (Jean-Louis Barrault) falls in love with a street woman known as Garance (Arletty)--and through a series of coincidences and his own love for her finds the inspiration to become one of the most beloved stage artists of his era. But when shyness causes him to avoid consumation of the romance, Baptiste loses Garance to her own circle of admirers--a circle that includes a vicious member of the Paris underworld (Marcel Herrand), rising young actor (Pierre Brasseur), and an egotistical and jealous aristocrat (Louis Salou.) With the passage of time, Garance recognizes that she loves Baptiste as deeply as he does her... but now they must choose between each other and the separate lives they have created for themselves.
While the film is sometimes described as dreamy in tone, it would be more appropriately described as dreamy in tone but extremely earthy in content.Read more ›