The rivalries over Garance become so fierce that a man actually ends up nearly killed. That's the entire first half of the movie (which runs a dizzying 3 hours, 10 minutes). Of Garance's lovers, we are meant to root for the mime (Jean-Louis Barrault) (and there are endless scenes of pantomime), but in part two, we find he and Garance both trapped in loveless marriages to other people. They eventually meet again. Tragedy ensues. Three hours to reinvent Romeo and Juliet without any of the color.
While Children of Paradise is desperately lacking in story, it is truly groundbreaking as a filmmaker's showcase. Sweeping overhead shots, remarkable crowd scenes, and simply clever photography are probably why critics and Francophiles have really fallen for the film. (Just listen to Terry Gilliam's inexplicable introduction on the Criterion DVD: "I like this film because it's about the theater." Huh?!? He then goes on to discuss the cinematography.) On DVD, the film is restored quite beautifully, but there is still a surprising amount of crud on the print. A wholly overdone commentary track deconstructs the film to its most minute detail -- to the point of absurdity.
If you're dying to see the movie, though, this new DVD is definitely the way to see it.
Aka Les Enfants du Paradis.
Run time: 190 mins
In Theaters: Friday 15th November 1946
Distributed by: Home Vision Entertainment
Production compaines: Société Nouvelle Pathé Cinéma
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Fresh: 34 Rotten: 1
IMDB: 8.3 / 10
Director: Marcel Carné
Screenwriter: Jacques Prévert
Starring: Arletty as Claire Reine, dite Garance, Jean-Louis Barrault as Baptiste Debureau, Pierre Brasseur as Frédérick Lemaître, María Casares as Nathalie, Marcel Herrand as Pierre-François Lacenaire, Louis Salou as Édouard comte de Montray, Pierre Renoir as Jericho, Jane Marken as Mme Hermine