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Les Enfants du Paradis

Wow, this has been restored to within an inch of its life. No scratches, no judders, and… they’ve also gotten rid of the film grain?

The soundtrack is likewise totally hiss free.

Eeek! This is more than three hours long… and I have no idea why I have this bluray. Let’s see…


t has received universal critical acclaim. “I would give up all my films to have Les Enfants du Paradis”, said nouvelle vague director François Truffaut.

It’s coming back to me now… I read a book of articles from Cahiers du Cinéma (three-ish years ago?), and they were raving about this movie there, so I got a copy.

The “paradis” they’re referring to is this — it’s slang for the balconies, and the film is about a vaudeville theatre, apparently? So perhaps an updated English title would be like, er, “Playing for the Cheap Seats”?

And… I’m not quite sure about this movie? I mean, it does have a convincing atmosphere — it reminds me of… of… Bergman? A couple decades later? Was he a fan? I can imagine he was. But… it seems a bit coldly calculated to me. At least so far. It’s about the “magic” of the theatre, and we’re introduced to all these actors and stuff that have their dreams about doing something stupendous. So we’re in the “Oscar’s genre”, really, which I’m not really that much of a fan of.

Perhaps it’ll become more compelling; I’ve just got two hours and twenty minutes to go.

That’s some bouquet.

It’s not that I’m not enjoying this, because I am. It’s beautifully filmed, and the performances are good, and the repartee is snappy. I guess I just find it hard to care for these characters? That is, they don’t really seem to have that much character? They’re broad caricatures more than anything else, I think.

It’s just impossible to recognise her through that veil!

I guess:

A 1995 vote by 600 French critics and professionals named it the “Best Film Ever”.[citation needed]

Heh heh:

Many of the 1,800 extras were Resistance agents using the film as daytime cover, who, until the liberation, had to mingle with some collaborators or Vichy sympathisers who were imposed on the production by the authorities.

I totally get that this is a film you’d choose if you’re French and you have to vote for “the best French movie ever”. It’s good, of course, and it’s a great tragedy, and it’s funny, but more importantly, it’s got that grand feeling going, like (for instance) Fanny & Alexander or Gone With the Wind. And quantity does have a quality all of its own.

So people in France have presumably been sat down for decades and being told “here’s this great movie”… and it is.

But while a great movie, I think it’s more about those externalities than the film itself, because there’s a bunch of French movies that are even better.

Children of Paradise. Marcel Carné. 1945.

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