Presented by the Melbourne Cinémathèque & ACMI
Children of Paradise
Les Enfants du paradis
Marcel Carné's influential love letter to the theatre is equally joyous, tragic and subversive
Along the Boulevard de Temple in Paris, heaving with sideshows, peep shows and the Théâtre des Funambules, courtesan Garance crosses paths with three would-be suitors – each real-life fixtures of the infamous stretch in the 1820s.
Upon first glance in the crowded street, Frédérick Lemaître, an exuberant out-of-work actor, latches on to Gerance declaring his easily-dispensed love. Pierre-François Lacenaire, a petty thief-cum-murderer-in-the-making, keeps her in his romantically detached orbit. And Baptiste Deburau, a downtrodden mime lurking in the periphery of the Théâtre des Funambules, falls deeply in love with her after a street performance that saves her from being arrested.
Born out of the restrictions of the time – historical films were allowed by the Nazis – Marcel Carné’s 1945 film was grandly produced during the German occupation of France. A heartfelt love letter to the illusory theatrical arts, the greatest illusions were behind the scenes. Jewish crew members were hidden from authorities and many of the 1000+ extras employed – presumably as the rambunctious crowds on the street and the titular children of paradise watching the shows from the upper levels – were French resistance agents using the production to hide in plain sight.
– Reece Goodwin, ACMI Curator (TV & Special Events)
22 July 2020
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Unclassified (All Ages)