Friday, July 20, 2012

Masterpieces Classics: Children of Paradise (1945)

What are Hugh doing, Mr. Jackman?
Marcel Carne's Children of Paradise has been described as France's answer to Gone With the Wind. But,  this sweeping epic/romance what-have-you is greater than Gone With The Wind. It's a more majestic, leaner, and subtle.

What is Marcel Carne's Children of Paradise? It is the telling tale of 4 men and the woman they love. First is Baptiste, a popular mime, and the good-hearted man out of the 4. He's the one that can't find love, except for the theater director's daughter, Nathalie, who can't get the message that Baptiste doesn't love her.

I considered now to list the rest of these men, but I decided to settle with the woman that they're all lickity-split upon: Garance, played by a (miscast) Arletty. She has encounters with all four men within two days, which is interestingly slutty, but more important on a dramatic note: If Baptiste ever gets Garance, will she stay with him?

The remaining three men are a rich count who pays Garance to be his whore (SLU- never mind...), Frederick, a man who lodges with Baptiste, and Lacenaire, who seems like a rich pimp. All of these men cross pathes with Garance and each other, and they all lead to an electrifying, bittersweet finale.

The film, famed for it's production, is touted about as the pinnacle of French filmmaking, and it just may be. It's rumored to play in France in every waking minute. Ironically, its production was troubled in France. It couldn't be made due to a ruling that films had to be 90 minutes or less. So, Carne made the movie into two films that played in one theater, than audiences had to travel to see part two! It was a seemingly controversial decision that payed off. Apparently, the movie played for weeks on end.

Children of Paradise. What does that mean? In the theater, like the one Baptiste performs in, the lower class people sat in a 'paradis'. Those sat, those who watched were assumed as the Children of Paradise. Almost as we all watch the movie, we all are children, Children of Paradise.

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