(I’m going to say it again, folks…) It’s Oscar season! Aaaaand, today’s the big day! Oscars 2021 are here, woop! So, to celebrate, this month’s WORLD CINEMA goes out to Les Enfants du Paradis (1945, dir. Marcel Carné), one of the first films not in the English language to be nominated for Best Original Screenplay (Jacques Prevert).
Set in Paris’ Boulevard du Crime, Les Enfants du Paradis (Children of Paraside) follows a love… quintet (?), with Garance (Arletty), a beautiful courtesan, and the four men who want her: actor Frederick Lemaitre (Pierre Brasseur), the rebellious Pierre-Francois Lacenaire (Marcel Herrand), mime artist Baptiste (Jean-Louis Barrault) and the aristocrat Count Edouard de Montray (Louis Salou). Right from the off, we get this sense that, to them, Garance is a woman to be admired, pursued and conquered and during its 3-hour run (yes), that is precisely what they all try to do.
France’s answer to Gone with the Wind and frequently referred to as such, Les Enfants du Paradis was made under ridiculously arduous circumstances (look it up, it’s the stuff of nightmares), and what came out of it is almost too grand and too spectacular to fully go into and do it justice (especially considering this is my second attempt to do so here at the Garden). An ambitious masterpiece about love, showbiz, the theatre, Paris and its delicious 19th Century decadence, Les Enfants du Paradis is a sight to behold.