Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Children of Paradise (1945)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Children of Paradise (1945, Fr.) (aka Les Enfants du Paradis)

In Marcel Carne's dazzling and beautiful theatrical masterpiece set in early 19th century Paris and shot during the period of France's occupation by the Nazis, a tale of doomed love:

  • in the elaborate opening, the words of the carnival barker: ("Step right in! The Truth is here! Step right in and see! She will fill your thoughts, invade your dreams! See Naked Truth with your own eyes!"), and the rising of an actual theatre curtain to reveal the first view of the 'children of paradise' - the poor and rowdy playgoers in the audience who must watch from the top balcony galleries at a distance in the cheap seats
  • the scene of the pickpocketing of a crowd onlooker's gold watch, who falsely charged the female standing next to him - raven-haired, fickle and enigmatic, seraphim-like (or Garbo-like) beauty/courtesan Garance (Arletty) of committing the petty crime: ("She did it - it had to be you. Thief!"), although the real culprit was Pierre-Francois Lacenaire (Marcel Herrand)
  • the remarkable pantomime on an outdoor stage of introverted, delicate, moon-faced theater mime Baptiste Deburau (Jean-Louis Barrault), as the character of Pierrot, who had witnessed the theft ("I saw the whole thing"), and proved through a re-enactment that Garance was not the pickpocket; the scene ended with the victim's apology: "I'm sorry. Error is human," to Garance's relief: "May I go now?...Fine, because I prize my freedom" - and her gift of a thrown flower to Baptiste for his performance
  • and later, Baptiste's confessions of love to Garance: "Your heart beating against my hand...You were right, Garance. Love is so simple"; and also his declaration: "I'm shaking because I'm happy. Happy because you're here, near me. I love you. Garance, do you love me?" She responded: "You talk like a child. People love that way in books, in dreams. Not in real life." He thought otherwise: "Dreams, life - they're the same. Else life's not worth living"; and Baptiste's wish: "If only lovers lived together, the world would glow in splendor"

"Children of Paradise":
The Theater Audience

Garance Next to Theft Accuser

Baptiste Deburau/Pierrot
(Jean-Louis Barrault)

Baptiste's Confessed Love for Garance


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