The Children of Paradise

Les Enfants du paradis is a French film directed by Marcel Carné based on a screenplay by Jacques Prévert , released in 1945 .

It is one of the rare French superproductions undertaken during the war and the film benefits in particular from the presence of Arletty .


First time: Paris , 1828. In the crowd on Boulevard du Crime , the mime Baptiste Deburau , by his silent testimony, saves Garance an unjust charge of theft. This one, free and audacious woman, intimidates Baptiste who does not dare to declare to him his love. Baptiste himself is discreetly loved by Nathalie, the daughter of the Director of the Theater des Funambules , where he plays pantomime. Seduced on the boulevard by a promising young actor, Frédérick LemaîtreGarance has a brief affair with him while remaining secretly in love with Baptiste. Committed to the Funambules, Garance seduces a wealthy society, the Comte de Montray, who assures him of his protection in case of need. Victim of one of his associates, the mobster Pierre François Lacenaire , Garance is unfairly accused of complicity in an attempted robbery by the latter and is forced to seek the intervention of the Comte de Montray.

Second period: A few years later, Baptiste is married to Nathalie with whom he had a baby boy. He met with great success on the boulevards where he made pantomime a recognized and popular art. Frederick also acceded to fame and dream to interpret Othello from Shakespeare . Garance, who became the Count’s mistress, returned to Paris and attends incognito to all the performances of Baptiste. One evening, when he arrives in the hotel of the Comte de Montray, Lacenaire is driven out by the count. Feeling humiliated, he swears revenge. Some time away, in the foyer of the theater where Frédérick finally plays Othellohe humiliates the count by publicly discovering Baptiste and Garance entwined behind a curtain. But this vengeance is not enough for him: he assassinates the Comte de Montray the next morning. Finally, after their first and only night of love, Garance, who does not want to destroy the happiness of Nathalie and her little boy, goes away, to the despair of Baptiste.

Technical sheet

  • Title: The Children of Paradise
  • Director: Marcel Carné , assisted by Pierre Blondy and Bruno Tireux
  • Scenario and dialogues: Jacques Prévert
  • Music: Maurice Thiriet , Joseph Kosma (under the name Georges Mouqué). The score is performed by the Orchestra of the Conservatory Concert Society under the direction of Charles Munch
  • Photography: Roger Hubert and Marc Fossard
  • Sound: Robert Teisseire
  • Editing: Madeleine Bonin and Henri Rust
  • Photographer: Léo Mirkine
  • Sets: Alexandre Trauner , Léon Barsacq and Raymond Gabutti
  • Costumes: Mayo
  • Makeup: Paule Déan
  • Production: Raymond Borderie , Fred Orain (initially André Paulvé 1 , 2 )
  • Production Companies: Pathé Cinema (initially: Discina 1 , 2 )
  • Shooting: from August 1943 to June 1944 , at the Victorine studios in Nice 3
  • Country of origin: France
  • Format: Black and White – 1.37: 1 – Monophonic – 35mm
  • Genre: drama
  • Language: French
  • Duration: 182 minutes (one source cites however 205 minutes, but the total duration of the two epochs available on video does not exceed 182 minutes)
    • st period: The Boulevard of Crime , duration 95 minutes
    • th day: The White Man , duration 87 minutes
  • Release dates:
    • France :
      • (premiere in Paris , at the “Madeleine” and “Colisée” cinemas)
      • (national exit) 4


  • Arletty : Claire, daughter of Irene or Mme Reine, known as Garance
  • Jean-Louis Barrault : Baptist Deburau
  • Maria Casares : Nathalie, daughter of the director of the Funambules Theater
  • Pierre Brasseur : Frédérick Lemaître
  • Marcel Herrand : Pierre-François Lacenaire
  • Pierre Renoir : Jericho
  • Louis Salou : Count Edouard de Montray
  • Jane Marken : Mrs. Hermine
  • Fabien Loris : Avril, Lacenaire’s henchman
  • Étienne Decroux : Anselme Deburau
  • Jacques Castelot : Georges
  • Albert Rémy : Scarpia Barrigni
  • Léon Larive : the concierge of the Funambules Theater
  • Pierre Palau : the director of the Funambules Theater
  • Marcel Pérès : the director of the Funambules Theater
  • Robert Dhéry : Célestin, the partner
  • Gaston Modot : Silk thread, the false blind
  • Paul Frankeur : the police inspector
  • Auguste Boverio : the first author
  • Paul Demange : the second author
  • Jean Diener : the third author
  • Louis Florencie : the gendarme of the Adrets
  • Marcelle Monthil : Marie in the Auberge des Adrets
  • Lucienne Legrand : The actress playing Desdemona in Othello
  • Cynette Quero : a theatrical
  • Jeanne Dussol : the bearded woman
  • Jean-Pierre Belmon : Baptiste Deburau Jr. , the son of Baptiste and Nathalie
  • Raphaël Patorni : a friend of Montray
  • Rivers Cadet : the bourgeois
  • Marcel Melrac : the policeman
  • Guy Favières : the collector
  • Habib Benglia : the Turkish Baths employee
  • Gustave Hamilton : the concierge of the Grand Theater
  • Raymond Rognoni : the director of the Grand Théâtre
  • Lucien Walter : the ticket vendor
  • Henri Delivry : the client of the public writer
  • Jean Gold: a friend of Montray
  • Jean Lanier : the actor playing Iago in Othello
  • Albert Broquin : a spectator in the “henhouse”
  • Jean Carmet : an inspector
  • Simone Signoret
  • Germain Aéros
  • Joe Alex
  • Nicolas Bataille
  • Bilboquet
  • Gérard Blain
  • Maurice Cartier
  • Gregory Chabas
  • Choisin
  • Max Dejean
  • Madhyanah Foy
  • Lioté
  • Pierre Réal
  • Paul Time
  • Michel Vadet
  • Roger Vincent


Given the historical period, The Children of Paradise is exceptional. It is indeed one of the rare superproductions realized during the German occupation. Many interruptions due to rationing of film and power cuts have considerably lengthened the time of shooting and hampered the production of this film 5 .


The story is based on a gallery of characters that really existed ( Deburau , Frédérick Lemaître , Lacenaire ), or inspired by real characters (a rich aristocrat assistant, according to chronicles of the time, at all performances Deburau a Minister of Foreign Affairs of Louis Philippe and the Duke of Morny , the half-brother of Napoleon III , possible models of the character of the Comte de Montray), are totally imaginary. Moreover the character of Jericho is one of the main characters of the pantomime Chand of clothes [ref. necessary] created in 1842 by Deburau (which Jericho / Renoir reproaches Deburau / Barrault in the film).


The film was shot during the Second World War , first in the studios of the Victorine in Nice , then in Paris in the Studios Francœur 6 and the theater Déjazet . Several participants who were Jewish, contributed to the film in hiding, like Alexandre Trauner and Joseph Kosma , mentioned in the credits under cover of a pseudonym 7 , 8 .

The film marks Carne’s first collaboration with the painter and costume designer Mayo , who will continue his collaboration with the director on many films thereafter ( The Doors of the Night , The Flower of the Age , Juliette or The Key of the Dreams , Thérèse Raquin and Les Tricheurs ). This friend of Prevert begins his work very early with the team to get the best of characters and scenario. The fabrics provided by Jeanne Lanvin also allow working in very favorable terms given the context of the occupation 9 .

This shoot was briefly interrupted by the events of the Liberation . Robert Le Vigan , which ironically had to take the role of the informant Jericho, had to flee because of its cooperation with the occupying German 10 . The actor, who, according to Marcel Carné, had shot only one scene, was replaced by Pierre Renoir .


The film, opened and closed by curtains, is also an mise en abyme of the representation, declining the world of the spectacle of then, dealing with the fair, the pantomime, the mime , the comedy , the melodrama , the tragedy , carnival … The summit is reached with the representation in the film of the Auberge des Adrets , authentic melodrama, telling the adventures of a bandit Robert Macaire .


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Arletty is the star of the film, but on opening night, it is absent because she was arrested Oct. 20, 1944 11 , 12 for having an affair with a German 5 .

The film was a great public success with 4.7 million viewers in France 13 .

Restoration and recovery

The film, restored in high definition in 2011, is released in theaters in the United States in March 2012 and in France in October 2012 14 . On this occasion, the Cinémathèque française isdevoting an exhibition to film 5 .

Around the film


This film was the subject of a documentary Once Upon a Time: The Children of Paradise by Marcel Carné, directed in 2009 by Serge July , Marie Génin and Julie Bonan 15 .

Arletty, a culpable passion , French biographical television movie co-written and directed by Arnaud Sélignac , aired in 2015. This TV movie tells the love story between the French actress Arletty and the German officer Hans Jürgen Soehring during the occupation of France by Germany. This TV film also evokes the filming Children of Paradise at the same time 16 .

Reposts and citations

On other Wikimedia projects:

  • The Children of Paradise , on Wikiquote

Can be heard on several occasions, the famous line , ” It’s so simple, love ,” said by Arletty, which was inserted into the musical montage Home Movies ( e part) of the composer Carlos D’Alessio dedicated to cinema ( Home Movies album preceded by the themes of the movie India Song , 1 CD The Song of the World LDX 274864, 1987 ).

The replica of Pierre Brasseur “Ah, you smiled! Do not say no, you smiled. Ah, that’s wonderful! Life is Beautiful! and you are like her … so beautiful, you are so beautiful too … ” , is used in the piece of Antibo, Southern Shores , which is in fact a cover of a song by Claude François [ref. necessary] .

We find there the beginning of a poem by Jacques Prévert which will appear in Paroles : “I am as I am”, sung by Garance.

The excerpt from the dialogue where Louis Salou says: “Can you tell my friend how you are currently exercising your talents? And Marcel Herrand answers: “since it interests you, I finish, finally I put the last hand, to a quite exciting thing, and that will make noise …” is used at the beginning of the song Extra Mile of the group Deluxe on the album The Deluxe Family Show .


The film shows the backstage of the theater, paying tribute to it, and is also dedicated to the modest people who will perch at the top, at the cheapest places, in the henhouse … paradise ! “This is the preferred public Prévert, the real public, who responds, who participates” writes Carole Aurouet in Jacques Prévert, portrait of a life 17 .

The stolen pendulum mentioned in the film “Today, the spoons, yesterday, a clock” refers to the one stolen by Lacenaire at the showcase of the Parisian watchmaker Richond : it was January 4, 1835 around 9 pm shoplifting Sieur Richond, watchmaker, rue Richelieu, 108 as related by memories of the Criminal 18 .

Arletty interrupts filming for a second abortion. Pregnant her lover, the officer in the Luftwaffe Hans Jürgen Soehring , she decides on this operation without informing 19 .


  • 1947 : Nomination for the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay .
  • 1990 : Designated during the show The most beautiful night of the cinema as best film of the period 1945-1960 and more beautiful French film since the speaking 20 .
  • 1995 : The Children of Paradise was voted the best French film of all time by critics on the occasion of the centenary of cinema 21 .
  • The film has been classified as World Heritage by UNESCO 6 .


  • The Children of Paradise , the exhibition”, at the French Cinémathèque from October 24, 2012 to January 27, 2013 22

Notes and references

  1. ↑ a and b  [ archive ] , accessed October 2, 2016
  2. ↑ a and b  [ archive ] , accessed October 2, 2016
  3. ↑ Limore Yagil , the name of art, 1933-1945: Exiles, solidarity and commitments, Paris, Fayard,590 p. ( ISBN  978-2-213-68089-7 , instruction BNF o FRBNF44299571 , read online  [ archive ] )
  4. ↑ The Children of Paradise [ archive ] on the site Ciné-Ressources ( Cinémathèque française ) indicates March 22, when the IMDb  [ archive ] reported March 15.
  5. ↑ a , b and c Frédéric Strauss , ” The Children of Paradise , the work of a poet and a maestro “, Télérama , ( read online  [ archive ] )
  6. ↑ a and b The Children of Paradise , The Exhibition ”  [ archive ] , on National Library of France , (accessed January 2, 2013 )
  7. ↑ collective, The Cinema of the 40s: Film Chronicle , Chronicle Publishing ( o 5), 87 p. ( ISBN  2366022115 , read online  [ archive ] ) , “Friday, March 9, 1945”, p.  2050
  8. ↑ Pascal Ory (ed.) And Marie-Claude Blanc-Chaléard, foreign Dictionary which made France , Paris, R. Laffont, coll.  “Bouquins”,, 953 p. ( ISBN 2221113160 , OCLC  862941638 , instructions BNF  FRBNF43685659 ,read online  [ archive ] ) , “Joseph Kosma” p.  785
  9. ↑ Evelyne Yeatman-Eiffel , Mayo ,,p.  134-137.
  10. ↑ Children of Paradise  [ archive ] by Philip Morrison.
  11. ↑ Michel Souvais, Arletty, confided to his secretary , Paris, Editions Publibook,, 206 p. ( ISBN  274838735X , OCLC  77493753 , read online [ archive ] ) , p.  143
  12. ↑ ” Arletty ( 1898/1992 ) by Christian Grenier ”  [ archive ] , on , (accessed February 27, 2015 )
  13. ^ ” The Children of Paradise ”  [ archive ] , on (accessedJanuary 2, 2013 )
  14. ↑  [ archive ]
  15. ↑ Presentation of the documentary Once upon a time: the children of paradise, by Marcel Carné on Eurochannel  [ archive ]
  16. ↑ ” Arletty, a guilty passion ”  [ archive ] , on AlloCiné (accessedSeptember 13, 2017 ) .
  17. ↑ Carole Aurouet , Jacques Prévert, portrait of a life , Paris, Ramsay,, 239 p. ( ISBN  2841148572 , OCLC  124 026 149 , record BNF  FRBNF41051193) , p.  87.
  18. ↑ Pierre-François Gaillard Lacenaire , memoirs, poetry and revelations Lacenaire written by himself to the concierge , Paris, Poussin, ( read online  [ archive ] )
  19. ↑ Denis Demonpion , Arletty ,p.  149.
  20. ↑ ” MARCEL CARNE: ARTE, 20 h 40 A filmmaker of the past ”  [ archive ] , on Le Monde ,
  21. ↑ “In 1993, cinema professionals, meeting Zenith designate Children of Paradise best French film of all time. And in 1995, the European Academy in Brussels ranks Les Enfants du Paradis among the three best films in the history of cinema. It will remain a cult film that will cross the time. » : « Speech of tribute to Mr. Carné de Polanski »  [ archive ] , on , (accessed February 27, 2015 ) .
  22. ^ ” The Children of Paradise, the exhibition ”  [ archive ] , on French cinematheque (accessed January 2, 2013 )

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