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Film / Children of Paradise

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Children of Paradise (French : Les Enfants du Paradis) is a 1945 French drama film, directed by Marcel Carné and written by poet Jacques Prévert. Set in Paris during the "July Monarchy" of the 1830s and revolving around the Théâtre des Funambules — a pantomime theater — and its comedians, along with a beautiful courtesan named Garance, it is both a love story and a tribute to theater. The film itself is divided in two parts named era : the first era is Boulevard du crime and the second one is L'homme blanc.

The story follows the meeting between Garance (Arletty), an independent and quick-witted woman, and Baptiste (Jean-Louis Barrault), who works as a mime at the Funambules. While they are quick to develop feelings for each other, several events, and a difference in mentalities, prevent them from being together. Several years later, Garance comes back, only to find a lot has changed during her time away. Every evening, though, she goes to the Funambules to see Baptiste play...


"Tropes are so simple":

  • Ambiguously Gay: Lacenaire. Averted in the script, where some interactions Lacenaire has hint quite overtly to his sexuality. The scenes were shot but cut from the movie, as it was shot during WW2 under Vichy and the film director wanted to avoid censorship.
  • Artistic License – History: Turkish baths didn't become popular in Europe until about 50 years after the era depicted in the film.
  • Betty and Veronica: Baptiste is Archie, Nathalie is Betty, and Garance is Veronica.
  • Cliffhanger: The first era ends with Lacenaire and Avril on the run, while Garance is falsely accused of a crime she didn't commit.
  • Caught in the Rain: Baptiste and Garance just after his confession.
  • The Dividual: The three authors of the play Lemaître deliberately sabotages by going off-script in rehearsals and on premiere night never appear separately, and two of them in particular always speak in unison (sometimes finishing the sentences of the third), as if they are one mind in two bodies.
  • Duel to the Death:
    • The authors of the melodrama in which Lemaître is starring challenge him to a duel after he spitefully goes off-script to protest the play's bad writing (even though the audience love his ad libs). A drunken Lemaître is really in no condition to fight, and he loses, but just comes out of the ordeal with a minor injury.
    • The Count de Montray regularly challenges people to duels if he thinks they are competing for Garance's affections, and he has left several dead bodies in his wake (for example, Garance recalls that he challenged a local to a duel in Edinburgh after accusing him of smiling at her; the Scotsman was apparently a poor shot). He ultimately challenges Lemaître to a duel after assuming that he is the man for whom Garance has been pining throughout their relationship (even after seeing her in Baptiste's arms), but Lacenaire murders him in a Turkish bath before the duel can take place.
  • Epic Movie: Runs 3 hours and 10 minutes, with some of the most elaborate sets and costumes attempted in French cinema up to that point.
  • Face Death with Dignity: After he kills the Count, Lacenaire just casually waits for the police and the foregone conclusion that he'll be executed.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Lacenaire is aloof, but still personable. But, the man is also a Sociopath who has no qualms about committing crimes.
  • Five-Finger Discount: Lacenaire steals a man's watch out of his front pocket while they are watching Baptiste's father advertise his upcoming performance; as Garance is standing on the other side of the victim, she initially gets the blame.
  • Floral Theme Naming: When asked what she is called, Garance replies that "it is the name of a flower." It is however revealed that Garance is not her true name, her birth name being Claire. It is unkwown how she came to be called Garance.
  • I Have Many Names: Lacenaire is implied to have several aliases.
  • Longing Look: Baptiste and Garance exchange one when they first meet.
  • Love Dodecahedron: The main male characters are all in love with Garance (though the Ambiguously Gay Lacenaire views her more as a Platonic Life Partner), while Nathalie is in love with Baptiste.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Baptiste gets thrown through a window by Avril when he asks Garance to dance at Le Rouge Gorge, but he winds up just a little dusty.
  • No Ending: Baptiste pursues Garance in the Carnival crowd but loses her as she leaves to stop the duel between the Count and Lemaître, unaware that the Count has been murdered by Lacenaire, so that Lemaître is in no danger.
  • Public Bathhouse Scene: Lacenaire confronts the Count in a Turkish bath at the film's climax.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Lemaître, but he ultimately does become an accomplished and successful actor.
  • Time Skip: Several years pass between the first and second era, during which Lacenaire and Avril keep a low profile, Baptiste marries Nathalie and becomes a successful pantomime actor, Lemaître becomes a modestly successful but profligate stage actor, and Garance travels the world with the Count de Montray.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: In its original American release, it was promoted as the "French Gone with the Wind".
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Baptiste, Lemaître and Lacenaire were all genuine 19th century Parisian figures, but the film's story is purely fictional.
  • Wicked Cultured: Lacenaire is well-dressed, well-spoken, and works as a scribe as a front for his criminal activities.