Every Word of Praise You Ever Heard About This
Film is True
If you're anything like me, you have a list of "must-see"
movies that you somehow never got around to, either because you
couldn't get a hold of them, or because their status as "classics"
always scared you away at the crucial moment. If all those stuffy
critics thinks it's great, the reasoning goes, it must be good for
you -- but how much fun will it be? You'll understand my delight,
then, when this new Criterion release finally left me no excuse
not to watch Marcel Carné's "Children of Paradise,"
long hailed as the greatest French film ever made -- just to find
out that all the praise lavished on it is well-deserved. Over the
last week, I have watched the 3 1/2 hour film no less than five
times, falling in love with it more and more as it slowly worked
its way into my all-time top ten list.
"Children of Paradise" tells the gripping story of Garance
(played by Arletty), and the four men (a mime, an actor, a thief
and assassin, and a duke) who love her in very different ways. The
tight and unabashedly romantic plot, is set in the theatrical milleu
of 1820s Paris, a magical world full of monkeys on stilts, deceptive
blind men, and side-show oddities that provide visual pleasures
to make the lush black-and-white photography sparkle. The expertly
crafted script, by surrealist poet Jacques Prévert,
gains depth with every viewing. This DVD, splendidly restored and
packaged as well as we've come to expect from Criterion, is a must-own
for any serious collector of foreign film.