Les Enfants du Paradis (Children of Paradise) Reviews
The only issue one may run into is the film is 3 hours long with an intermission. It was not unusual for big epic films to have long showing times (ben-hur, etc). However, in this age where attention spans are short, it may take a few viewings to get through.
An intense story that caught my attention during its three hours of reel with excellent performances and really smart dialogues.
It gives the reason to director François Truffaut when said: "I would give up all my films to have directed Children of Paradise".
Children of Paradise is an epic tale of a love story that starts out simple and sweet which eventually becomes complicated and difficult to manage. Its story centralizes on three characters; Baptiste, Frederick, & Garance, that starts off showing them as youths with hopeful ambitions and ending as mature individuals who have established themselves in their careers.
The first thing that one would think of after watching this film would be how romantic this film felt. The tone and idea was everywhere, fuelling almost all of its characters in attaining love in order for them to feel satisfied with their lives. At first I found this to be a tad bit melodramatic as love isn't the only key to a happy ending, though it is important, but once the film establishes the initial spark of the romances then the emotions started to sink into me, slowly drawing me into the drama surrounded between the film's main characters. I was constantly rooting for Baptiste to succeed in his relationship with Garance as the film successfully made me feel genuinely sympathetic to the character during the first few minutes he comes on screen, therefore seeing him almost at the grasp of romantic success was quite exciting. The film's second half was still able to hold my interest, in regards to the romance, but was soon lost once the film started to walk close towards its final curtain. The decision made by the character was just detachable for me, as my personal decision would have been to be with the other person, this would have been almost similar to the final scene of Casablanca if it weren't for the character's decision to be already made up at least 20 minutes before the film's end. There were two other individuals that were also included in the romance, but I personally felt that they weren't on screen long enough to have me completely invested in their characters, but I do acknowledge their critical roles in the relationship.
Aside from the film's romantic story, it also explores the idea of art or career and how love could potentially improve or ruin it. The film's first half shows us how ambitious and talented both Baptiste and Frederick are. I am easily attached to individuals who are immensely in love with their art as it kind of plays a reflection of the filmmakers, and at times myself. Throughout the film they sometimes show long scenes of these characters performing their art, and sometimes the film doesn't show us the reaction of its audience as the film wants the audience of the play and the film to be merged as one as we watch the beauty of "acting", or in Baptiste's case "miming", and affect us at an emotional level. This was something that was executed similarly in another film called, The Red Shoes, where we see a woman dance throughout the entire ballet, and at times going towards the point of immersion that the audience actually feels like they are living within it, Children of Paradise sadly didn't make impact me on the level that The Red Shoes did but that doesn't mean that this film failed in exploring that. I am not sure whether or not the reference is direct or indirect but the character that Baptiste seems to play on stage, during the first and second part of the film, seems similar to Charlie Chaplin's The Tramp, which is a character that is now considered to be immortal in the art of cinema, and Baptiste's character seems to show that idea also as the audience who watches his works seem to want more and more of it, and not showing of any signs or feelings of tiresome. Though Baptiste's rise was certainly interesting, it couldn't beat the eagerness and pretension of Frederick, he truly wants to be an artist and to be along the ranks of figures like Shakespeare. Right from the start, I wanted him to rise and be successful in his endeavours, even if things don't go so well later on. I guess in some ways, I see some qualities of the character in myself which is probably the reason why I was so invested in the character. Baptiste and Frederick both seem to represent the two sides and shift in cinema that has happened almost two decades before this film was released; the shift from silent to sound films. This would normally be something that would generate conflict between characters, but the filmmakers were too careful in not diverting our attentions away from the film's main point, the romance. Instead the filmmakers balance it out and see the two sides as friends, at least for the most part, and at the same time emphasising this idea that both styles are equally significant and is deserving of appreciation and applause.
The film's photography was quite appealing to watch, as each scene delivers wonderful use of lighting that creates a sense of mood that is parallel to the emotions of scene's characters. The film doesn't scream out a sense of style, as the filmmakers are less concerned on how the film looks but rather on how the film feels, especially in regards to the film's narrative. The photography was definitely able to support that, exposing the detailed art direction and costumes aiding us in being immersed to the world of the characters, which in this case is 1800s Paris, and to highlight the fact that this film is an enormous production even if the film mainly takes its place indoors. The film's score was satisfying from what I remember, it was really hard for me to isolate my thoughts on it as most of my efforts were found in the film's characters and intricate set design. I need another watch in order for me to go into a little more detail into it.
The acting in this film was great all around. Jean-Louis Barrault as Baptiste Debureau was excellent in the role, playing this character that has truly fallen head over heels for Garance, who is played by Arletty. Both show great chemistry and managed to keep me away from thinking of criticisms like dull and lethargic. Pierre Brasseur as Frederick Lemaitre was astounding; each scene he is in, one can clearly see the love he has for the character. It's when these characters perform on a stage that makes me want to just give them applause, as they are so good in their performances that sometimes the story of the play or mime becomes the more interesting one.
Children of Paradise is a film that shows wonderful potential during the first half, with interesting characters and a story that doesn't take long in having you be invested, but then starts to falls apart during the final 20 minutes of the film. My personal feelings with the film's conclusion are based on pure subjectivity and may prove better with others. This is definitely a film I would like to go back to sometime in the future, as the film definitely has enough to offer that a revisit wouldn't feel unnecessary.
- Quite simply a Masterpiece!
While there are certain immersively realist tones here and there, this film is very much a French melodrama, and if you enter expecting that, it's not difficult at all to be consistently compelled by this somewhat histrionic opus, yet even those willing to run with this type of film will find the occasional challenge to their investment from the manufactured drama, partially because this melodrama gets to be a bit formulaic at times. The film is never all that conventional, but quite frankly, it's neither all that unique, being juicy enough to never be predictable, but decidedly with a moderate degree of unoriginality that, when derivative of tropes tainted by conventionalism, prove to be kind of distancing, though perhaps not as much as the slow spells, of which there are, well, less than I expected. I mean, I felt that director Marcel Carné had to have some kind of plan for sustaining your interest for nearly three hours and a quarter, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that this film is, on the whole, more entertaining than your typical dry drama of the this type and time, and yet, there's no missing slow-downs, as there's still plenty of them, chilling down engagement value with blandness and retarding momentum enough for you to have plenty of time to meditate upon the film's biggest core problem. Clocking in at a whopping 190 minutes in length, this intimate drama uses its time much more wisely than I feared, but nevertheless has way too much time to spare, bloating itself with excess material that gets to be pretty repetitious at times, and even leaves the film to focus too intensely on a certain subplot or character within this layered affair, to where you get too used to one layer for a shift in focus to be all that organic. The film is perhaps at its most relatively uneven when we enter the second part, but even changes in scene, maybe even a setting within a scene, prove to be kind of jarring, never to where you're launched completely out of the film, but decidedly to where you're thrown off by a direct result from overblown storytelling that makes the film itself seem overblown. The final product doesn't necessarily outstay its welcome, as it is consistently compelling and ultimately rewarding, no matter how long it takes to make sure that your investment pays off, but it tries to keep you going a bit longer than it probably should, gradually losing steam through pacing problems that, alongside the occasional lapse in uniqueness, challenge your attention. Of course, in the long, long, "long" run the film does not entirely squander its great deal of time with you, compelling you through and through, or at least doing a pretty decent job of drawing you into its world.
Whether it be because of plenty of places in which this "mini"-epic tones down its scope, or simply because of limitations at the time, intensified by the project's coming along specifically at a time when spending money on lavish productions was anything but the biggest concern of a France that was deep in a struggle to get rid of those pesky Nazis, this period piece's production value isn't all that outstanding, but it is impressive, with art directors Léon Barsacq and Raymond Gabutti teaming up with production designers Léon Barsacq, Raymond Gabutti and Alexandre Trauner, as well as costume designer Mayo, to capture the dazzling setting of Paris during the early-mid-19th century with immersion value and artistic tastefulness that goes rivaled only by the film's other artistic touches. Granted, because of aforementioned limitations, the artistic value within this film's art direction doesn't raise all that high of a standard to challenge, and sure enough, Maurice Thiriet's score work and Marc Fossard's and Roger Hubert's cinematography aren't outstanding, but, also like the art direction, they are nonetheless impressive, with Thiriet's music having a fair degree of loveliness to it, regardless of considerable conventionalism, while Fossard and Hubert deliver on photography that, in spite of the color and definition limitations of the time, subtly plays with lighting in a way that is consistently tasteful and sometimes haunting. As with plenty of ambitious French efforts, this film is, at the very least, artistically impressive, with production value and style - both of a musical and visual nature - that aren't all that remarkable, but still stand as worthy of compliments, as they help in breathing some liveliness into the telling of a story that deserves nothing less than impressive compliments. There's little that's especially unique about this melodramatic tale, and that gets to be clearer and clearer the longer you're stuck with this story that storytelling takes over three hours to unravel, but there's still plenty of juice to this layered romantic drama and thoughtful ensemble character study, boasting dramatic potential that storytelling celebrates much more than betrays, with Jacques Prévert's script delivering on witty dialogue (I think, if the subtitles are right) and thorough exposition, as well as some sharp thematic touches, while director Marcel Carné executes Prévert's vision with a thoughtful attention to atmosphere reinforcement that immerses you into the film, when not backing the dramatic touches with engaging heart, and the lighter moments with enough flavor to keep dullness at bay. Sure, there are slow spots, but the film is never dull, and it's very rarely all that bland, which is impressive, considering how lengthy this meditative drama is, thus making the offscreen talents successful in their telling of this tale, as surely as the onscreen talents prove to be successful in their anchoring this tale. As you can probably imagine, considering the limitations in the sensibilities of this time, as well as the limitations in this drama's kick, there's not a whole lot for our performers to work with, yet most everyone delivers on charm and chemistry that draw you into his or her layered character and relationship with his or her peers, selling you on much of the human heart that drives this character study, and rounds out a tightly structured team of compelling carriers of a compelling film. I kind of wish there was more tightness to this effort, as well as more meat, as irony would have it, but there is enough effectiveness that is fleshed out within this epic for you to feel as though your three hours are not wasted.
When it's all said... in French and "finally" done, you're left with a melodramatic film whose conventional areas challenge your investment, but not as much as the dry spells that retard pacing enough for you to really meditate upon the considerable excessiveness in material that often bloats narrative layers to the point of inspiring a certain inconsistency at times, and reflects an overblown ambition in this project that can never be fully fulfilled, but is ultimately done enough justice by strikingly tasteful, if limited production, musical and cinematographic value, as well as by a juicy story, - carried by witty writing, sharp direction and charismatic acting - for Marcel Carné's "Les Enfants du Paradis", or "Children of Paradise", to reward as an endearing, if overlong romantic drama.
3/5 - Good
Bei großen Epen oder Monumentalfilmen wundert es mich selten, doch hie und da, kommen dann Filme wie La Dolce Vita" oder Magnolia" daher, bei denen ich mich frage, wie sie ihre drei Stunden ausfüllen.
Les Enfants du Paradis" ist ebenfalls in diese Kategorie einzuordnen. Oft gehandelt als das französische Pendant zu Gone with the Wind" fehlt ihm doch der Bürgerkrieg, der Konflikt zwischen Norden und Süden und andere Thematiken, die einen Film über solch lange Zeit am Leben erhalten können.
Les Enfants du Paradis" füllt seine drei Stunden mit Theater. Ich wage zu behaupten, dies ist einer der furiosesten Filme über Theater die je gemacht wurden. Es geht um Liebe zum Theater und Liebe im Theater.
Ein wunderschöner Film, mit ausgezeichneten Dialogen und gutem Schauspiel. Hervorzuheben ist v.a. Jean-Louis Barrault, der einen Pantomimen darstellt, der es im Laufe des Films zu großer Berühmtheit schafft.
Künstlerisch ist es sehr eindrucksvoll wie Barrault den Pantomimen mimt. Barraults Deburau ist nicht der einzige farbenfrohe Charakter, man denke an Jericho, der für Comedic Relief und etwas Düsterkeit sorgt, und auch der shakespearesche Schauspieler Frédérick, der es ebenfalls schlussendlich zu Ruhm und Reichtum bringt, aber zu Anfangs gefangen in der Kleinkunst ist, kann als solcher gelten.
Immer wieder bietet der Film auch geniale Kamerafahrten, Massenszenen und Tracking Shots und sieht, alles in allem, einfach geil aus.
Ein 3-Stunden Opus, der zwar nicht wirklich kurzweilig ist, aber immerhin schön anzusehen.
A near-Shakespearean tragedy; most tragic for those left to live with the consequences of betrayal and revelation.
Seriously, though, now that I've gotten the obligatory French mockery out of the way. Huge props for costumes & set decoration. It actually is a somewhat engaging film. But, also somewhat predictably, elevates eros or amoure over marital fidelity -- which is a theme that I reject. Therefore, I cannot claim to fully appreciate or enjoy this film. Baptiste, went from the most sympathetic character to the biggest cad in film. Ultimately, fails to deliver & live up to billing. It's basically an enormous French soap.