Children of Paradise is a love story about actors mimes and criminals. I sought it out because it’s mentioned in Still Life With Woodpecker as an important part of the resistance in World War 2. The film was made in France under Nazi occupation, which is not an environment super conducive to producing art. But yet this grand tale filled with thousands of extras was filmed. The idea in Still Life was that this movie was part of the outlaw fight for dreams and art, which is just as important as political freedom. It was an act of resistance to make something beautiful in horrible conditions.
And the movie is beautiful. There are four men who all love this beautiful woman. One is an actor, one a mime, one a criminal and the final a count (who really likes duelling). Baptiste, the mime, is too timid early, and so he loses her, even though she’s the one he loves, and he’s the one she loves. Garance spends most of the film with people she doesn’t love, and Baptiste tries to have a life with the woman who loves him, but everything falls apart beautifully.
The conversations the characters have about love are wonderful, witty, and insightful. It’s just amazing, the whole thing.