Fr : version française / En: english version

mheu, Historical Museum of the Urban Environment

Les Enfants du Paradis (The Children of Paradise) - 1: Boulevard du Crime

Marcel Carné / Jacques Prévert

1h 35mins / 1h 27mins

View this work in the Bathing exhibition

The work

Les Enfants du paradis is a 1945 film divided into two periods (Boulevard du Crime and The Man in White). It is designed as a show mixing real and imaginary historical characters. The action, which takes place in Paris in 1828, centers on the relationship between the mime Debureau (Jean-Louis Barrault), the actor Frédérick Lemaître (Pierre Brasseur) and Garance (Arletty).

The choice of period and plot demonstrates the director Marcel Carné's and screenwriter Jacques Prévert's love of the 19th century, when art began to be aimed at the people rather than the elite. Shot during the war but only released at the time of the Liberation, the film was hugely successful with both the critics and the public. The critics voted it the best film of all time in 1995.

Les Enfants du Paradis through the eyes of Marcel Carné (in French)

The artist

Born in Paris in 1906, Marcel Carné made his cinema debut as an assistant director in 1933. Very soon, he made his first film, Jenny, with two men who were to remain loyal to him for many years: Jacques Prévert and Joseph Kosma. Up until the end of the war, with or without Prévert and Kosma, he made a number of films that defined French cinema: Drôle de drame (Bizarre, Bizarre), Quai des brumes (Port of Shadows), Hôtel du Nord, Le jour se lève (Daybreak), Les visiteurs du soir (The Night Visitors), Les enfants du Paradis (The Children of Paradise) and Les portes de la nuit (Gates of the Night). He was one of the key directors of the poetic realism genre.

After the war, Carné made a dozen more films that were less favorably received by cinemagoers and elicited a lukewarm reaction from the critics, despite successes such as Thérèse Raquin and Les tricheurs. He died in Clamart in 1996.

The poet, screenwriter and playwright Jacques Prévert was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine in 1900. He was bored by school and left after receiving his Certificat d'études. Prévert made a living from casual jobs, notably at Le Bon Marché department store in Paris, before doing his military service when he met Marcel Duhamel and the painter Yves Tanguy.

When he was demobbed, he returned to Paris and became a member of the Rue du Château surrealist group with whom he engaged in the Surrealist game of consequences called cadavre exquis (exquisite corpse) and explored the medium of collage. In the 1930s, an atheist and antimilitarist, he wrote plays for the politically committed, avant-garde theatre company, the October Group. At the same time, with the invention of talking pictures, he wrote adaptations, screenplays and dialogues for directors such as Claude Autant-Lara, Jean Renoir, Marcel Carné and Christian-Jacque, sometimes with his brother Pierre.

1946 saw the publication of his first poetry collection, Paroles, a compilation of pre-war writings that met with huge success. Some of the poems were later set to music. Other collections followed, as well as works produced in association with painters and sculptors, including Picasso, Braque, Chagall, Max Ernst, Calder and Miro. He died in 1977 in Omonville-la-Petite in Normandy where he had retired.