After the fall of France in 1940, Jean Renoir, Julien Duvivier, and (briefly) Jean Gabin decamped for Hollywood. Director Marcel Carné and poet–screenwriter Jacques Prévert stayed in their occupied country and, under straitened circumstances, assembled their magnum opus LES ENFANTS DU PARADIS (CHILDREN OF PARADISE).
“The cast is a record of Paris under the Nazis, and one can only regret that some of the players [Arletty] did collaborate, while some were falsely accused of it. It is hard when actors are held up to the standards of human beings.” — David Thomson*
Les Enfant’s first screenings took place in Paris immediately after the Liberation, and the film was celebrated as an emblem of French fortitude and “patriotism” during wartime. Rather than talk about who did what to whom during the dark years, it was easier for Paris to find a symbol of freedom in a 3-hour “panorama of theatrical enterprise, from the lowest street performer to the loftiest actors” [Thomson], set in a simpler time one hundred years prior to its release.
LES ENFANTS DU PARADIS
Friday and Saturday, February 24 and 25, at 7:30 pm.
New Beverly Cinema
7165 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles.
*“Have You Seen…?”: A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films, by David Thomson, is out in paperback.
Above: French poster.
Below: Jean-Louis Barrault (standing) as Baptiste in Children of Paradise.