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  • Children of Paradise (Criterion) / Les enfants du paradis (Criterion) (Bilingual) [Blu-ray]
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Children of Paradise (Criterion) / Les enfants du paradis (Criterion) (Bilingual) [Blu-ray]

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Product Details

  • Format: Black & White, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Sept. 18 2012
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B008CJ0JR0
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #25,644 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Product Description

A tragic French epic considered a classic romantic film, Children of Paradise takes as its setting a theater troupe in Paris during the 19th century, but was actually filmed during the last years of World War II. In the troupe, a mime (Jean-Louis Barrault) falls in love with an actress in the company, but must vie for her affections with others, including a thief, an actor, and an influential count. When the actress is accused of theft, the mime exonerates her with a bravura performance for the prefect. Eventually, though, the actress must flee Paris under protection of the count after being mixed up in a crime with the thief, leaving the smitten mime heartbroken. In the intervening years, both become involved with others, the actress with the count and the mime with the daughter of the theater owner, eventually having a child. Both couples are unhappy, and although the mime rises above the poverty-stricken neighborhood where he has honed his trade and becomes wildly successful, he still pines away for the love of his life. Eventually the two lovers are meant to meet again, but their storybook ending may yet elude them. The film boasts a picaresque squalor drawn from the time in which it was set, highlighting the tenacious romance at its core. Children of Paradise has a melancholy feeling both authentic and immediate, a romance with moments of pure magic. --Robert Lane

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Jan. 2 2004
Format: VHS Tape
I agree with the assessment that Les Enfants du Paradis is one of the greatest films of all time. To really appreciate it, one must view it repeatedly. (I believe I've watched it 50 times with ever-increasing admiration!) Only then can the subtleties of the integration of cinematography, acting, dialogue, choreography, and musical score be apprehended. The restoration is fantastic and the English subtitles are very good, though it's better to understand French.
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.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Shepherd on Jan. 30 2005
Format: DVD
Five stars for the five leads in an amazing ensemble cast, five stars for the five plot threads that interweave nimbly and seamlessly throughout the movie, and five stars for the five-year gap between the first and second acts.
This is one of the most perfect movies ever made; if the audience is willing to shelve, just for a moment, their contemporary notions of beauty and can let themselves believe that the object of all men's desire in this movie is, in fact, stunningly beautiful. That was the only hurdle I faced watching this movie on the strength of nothing but its reputation; once I allowed my factory-set notions of beauty to be swept away by the power of the film, everything fell into place.
Amazingly, I had already seen a segment of the film unwittingly -- one of the pantomimes, excerpted at a National Gallery touring exhibit on clowns in art. I had been spellbound by it then, and had forgotten the name of the movie it was attached to, and was delighted to discover that the five-minute excerpt that I had found so brilliant and beautiful was accompanied by another nearly three hours (!!) of equally wonderful work.
I've never had a movie of this length go by so quickly. There is no second-act lag. There is no feeling of a grind to the finish at the end, which is rare for somebody of my limited attention span. Everything fits together like clockwork -- plot, characters, direction, music, sets, costumes -- so perfectly that the thrill of seeing how the film works is as great as the narrative itself.
Every once in a while you finish a movie and not only discover that you liked it, you feel compelled to make everyone you know watch it. Tally ho.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Gary F. Taylor on Jan. 6 2003
Format: VHS Tape
CHILDREN OF PARADISE has a history almost as remarkable as the film itself. Production was just beginning when Paris fell to the Nazis; the work was subsequently filmed piecemeal over a period of several years, much of it during the height of World War II. And yet astonishingly, this elaborate portrait of 19th Century French theatre and the people who swirl through it shows little evidence of the obvious challenges faced by director Marcel Carne, his cast, and his production staff. CHILDREN OF PARADISE seems to have been created inside a blessed bubble of imagination, protected from outside forces by the sheer power of its own being.
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By French Romantic culture-lover on May 8 2011
Format: DVD
Never will 3 hours of black & white film pass by so painlessly; even my VHS version, whose 2nd tape must be inserted at the halfway point, flies by. This beautiful love triangle set on the Boulevard de Crime of turn-of-the-[19th C.]-Paris is laden with striking imagery of beauty, of loss, pain and inadequacy, of dreams of what could be ... of the mortal set against the dreams of each of the proponents. This mocked-up Paris was created in a stand-in Paris by the sea in 1945 (though filming began in 1943), the real Paris inundated and occupied by the Nazis).

My only qualification is with the packaging. Why can we not have the original French title? I want to own the product that says "Enfants du Paradis," not the translated title. Surely not every title from another culture needs to be dumbed-down. On that score, I haven't yet seen the DVD version (have the VHS), and I hope the translations in subtitles are full and accurate, since in my experience most are shortened and with liberties taken; I get the sense the translations are farmed-out to sweatshops what with all the typos. By the bye, "Paradise" I believe is the name of the theatre--haven't watched this in some time, my VHS machine having died (that's like a DVD that is shaped like a thick book :) ). "The Gods" refers to the nosebleed section of the theatre, from where the streetpeople, the urchins and bums, jeer and cajole the players on stage. This movie contains one of the greatest studies of the jealousies and rivalries that go on behind the curtains of any theatre, as well.

Jean-Louis Barrault is the main male character, and I believe I've read that Charlie Chaplin was impressed by his mime work.
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