Wednesday, 2 July 2014
JULY 2, 2014
LES ENFANTS DU PARADIS/Children of Paradise (1945) Directed by Marcel Carne. *****
It is probably one of the symptoms of being a movie buff that you get the urge to make lists. Our top 100, 50 or 10 favourites of all time, top films in individual genres, top directors etc. I do and I'm pretty sure you do as well. These lists often change as our taste matures and, of course, as we see more films. They can rarely, if ever, be definitive. It was Peter Bogdanovich who, when asked to list his favourite films of all time, pointed out that such a list would change from day to day, depending on his mood. He qualified the list that he gave by saying, "This is today's list, not yesterday's or tomorrow's." I long ago gave up trying to list what I thought were the best films of all-time. How can anybody decide that? But what is my favourite film of all-time? For several years now I've usually said it was Ingmar Bergman's sombre WINTER LIGHT, although some days it became Michelangelo Antonioni's L'ECLISSE (an indecision I share with my friend Rickster) before shifting back again. There are, of course, other candidates from such directors as Vigo, Hitchcock, Renoir, Kurosawa and Carne amongst others. Recently I cancelled my subscription to Love Film and have spent many evenings revisiting many of my favourites. I've decided (and it will no doubt change again) that my present favourite film is Marcel Carne's LES ENFANTS DU PARADIS. I must have seen the film four or five times over the years and never fail to be drawn into the world Carne and writer Jacques Prevert create. Great characters (several based on real people) are brought to life by great performances from the likes of Arletty, Jean-Louis Barrault, Pierre Brasseur amongst others. But what really excites me is the ending because no matter how many times I see the film and, even though I know what is coming, I still feel shocked by it, still taken by surprise, as though this time it might end differently.