Children of Paradise - 1945 - still
Children of Paradise (1945)

Presented by the Melbourne Cinémathèque & ACMI

Children of Paradise

Les Enfants du paradis

Marcel Carné | France | 1945 | Unclassified (All Ages)

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22 July 2020

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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)

Format: Black & White
Language: French with English subtitles

Event duration

189 mins


Unclassified (All Ages)

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Learn more

Great Directors: Marcel Carné
Ben McCann, Senses of Cinema, March 2011

Les Enfants du Paradis
Girish Shambu, Senses of Cinema, February 2001

Terry Gilliam on Children of Paradise (1945)
The Janus Films Director Introduction Series

Three Reasons: Children of Paradise
Criterion Collection, 12 September 2012

Children of Paradise 1945 - still.jpg

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