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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Children of Paradise")

directed by Marcel Carné
France 1945

Detailed here are some of the better known anecdotal minutia regarding the 1945 French film Children of Paradise:

  • Still said to be shown at least once everyday somewhere in Paris.

  • The most expensive French film to ever made at the time with excessively detailed costumes and sets.

  • Filmed during Nazi occupation of France in 1943.

  • Film length restrictions at the time forced it to become two films totaling three hours ten minutes .

  • Highly regarded as perhaps the greatest and most influential French film ever made.

    In 1945, Marcel Carné along with Jacques Prévert were able to create a lavish cinematic representation of the passionate bond of performance artists using the backdrop of a pervading criminal element of 1820's Paris. "The show must go on" conquers all other idioms as characters each give of their true spirit for their craft, occasionally compromising both subtly and overtly, with their inner struggle endearing them to the audience.

    Children of Paradise explores the concepts of love and art, with intricate juxtapositions that are interwoven with perhaps some of the wittiest dialogue ever written in the history of cinema. It reads much like a Shakespearean drama, as another link to its thespian forbearers. Dominating the tight narrative is the sophistication of Garance, the female lead played by Arletty. Passionately circling her to varying degrees are four men who have come to love her, each in a different way. These characters exude their own individual appeal with vain bravado, sensitivity, animal cunning and pompous wealth.

    A star of the film just as much as any character, is the Funambules Theater where much of the theatrical presentations take place. The viewer is made to feel a privileged member of the bawdy crowd appreciating the developmental "mask" that the performers imbue. The border of art and life are criss-crossed time and again with masterful perfection. This evocation and the sardonic dialogue are part of the films deepest strengths.

    Working well on its own surface storyline, Children of Paradise is also a subtle representation of art itself and even more vehemently displaying the portrait of the artists who perform for us. Has the plight of the performance artist ever been portrayed with such accuracy? Perhaps not. Above all else, I would suggest that this film, with its dedication to the art of the mime and curious references to artistic abstraction is above all else; French, both culturally and aesthetically.

    With interpretational openness of its narrative, Children of Paradise has been examined to a much further extent than its auteurs had intended. Perhaps this has given it the longevity in cinematic history that it holds with such justifiable loftiness.

    The final scene seems to bundle the films deeper affectations and fundamentals together with the artist pursuing his heartfelt love, but blockaded and betrayed by his own performance craft. An ideal which enables the "common man" to perform as much as the marquee'd star, perhaps informing us that his emotional catharsis is not only for the "artiste oblige", ... but that we are all inherently "children of paradise".

    I can't say enough about this film... spectacular beyond words. Just buy it and watch it over and over for the rest of your life.out of

Posters (CLICK to enlarge)

Theatrical Release: March 9th, 1945 - France

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 Comparison:

Criterion (2 disc) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Second Sight - Region 2 - PAL vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

1) Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Second Sight - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

Distribution

Criterion Collection Spine # 141

Region 1  - NTSC

Second Sight Films Ltd
Region 2 - PAL
Criterion Collection - Spine #141 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:41:45 + 1:29:18 = 3:11:03 3:01:48 (4% PAL speedup) 3:10:29.875
Video

1.37:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.85 + 6.9  mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.37:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.61 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 43,237,819,249 bytes

Feature: 42,748,226,688 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.97 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes

Bitrate:

Criterion Disc 1

 

Criterion Disc 2

Bitrate:

 

Second Sight

 

Bitrate:

 

Blu-ray

 

Audio French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)

French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)

LPCM Audio French 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Subtitles English, and none English (non-removable) English, and none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen (Standard) - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Commentary by film scholar Brian Stonehill
• Commentary by film scholar Charles Affron
• 24 page booklet, including transcribed excerpts from Brian Stonehill's 1990 interview with Marcel Carne, cast biographies, and essay by film historian Peter Cowie
• Video introduction by director Terry Gilliam
• Jacques Prevert's film treatment
• Production designs by Aleandre Trauner
• Production stills gallery
• Filmographies for Marcel Carne and Jacques Prevert
• U.S. theatrical trailer


DVD Release Date: January 22, 2002
Double
Keep Case

Chapters 24 + 23

Release Information:
Studio: Second Sight Films

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.37:1

Edition Details:

• Trailer


DVD Release Date: September 18th, 2000

Keep Case
Chapters: 26

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 43,237,819,249 bytes

Feature: 42,748,226,688 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.97 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Edition Details:
• Commentary by film scholar Brian Stonehill (Part 1)
• Commentary by film scholar Charles Affron (Part 2)
Disc 2

• Video introduction by director Terry Gilliam (5:14)
• Restoration demonstration (4:16)
• U.S. trailer (3:18)
• Once Upon a Time: “Children of Paradise,” a 2009 documentary on the making of the film (51:15)
• New visual essay on the design of Children of Paradise by film writer Paul Ryan (22:20)
• The Birth of “Children of Paradise,” a 1967 Rob Houwer Film documentary featuring interviews with director Marcel Carné; actors Arletty, Jean-Louis Barrault, and Pierre Brasseur; production designer Alexandre Trauner; and others (1:03:34)
• Liner notes booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Dudley Andrew and excerpts from a 1990 interview with Carné

Blu-ray Release Date:
September 18th, 2012
Standard
Blu-ray Keep Case

Chapters 27

 

Recommended Reading in French Cinema (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

The Films in My Life
by Francois Truffaut, Leonard Mayhew

French Cinema: A Student's Guide
by Philip Powrie, Keith Reader
Agnes Varda by Alison Smith Godard on Godard : Critical Writings by Jean-Luc Godard Notes on the Cinematographer by Robert Bresson Robert Bresson (Cinematheque Ontario Monographs, No. 2)
by James Quandt
The Art of Cinema by Jean Cocteau French New Wave
by Jean Douchet, Robert Bonnono, Cedric Anger, Robert Bononno
French Cinema: From Its Beginnings to the Present
by Remi Fournier Lanzoni

Check out more in "The Library"


Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray (August 2012): Having seen the original Criterion DVD, perhaps, a dozen times - Pathé’s 2011 restoration of the film took some getting used to. While there are significantly fewer artefacts than either of the DVD renderings - the 1080P image leans to a smoky-soft contrast, unpleasantly waxier, appearance. It is actually quite consistent and there is some subtle layering that advances beyond SD. Generally, there is quite a bit more information visible on the right edge, some on the left and a shade less on the bottom. Being brighter there is more detail. I eventually gave-in to the higher resolution and it's a shame it is so smeary.   

The sound has also been restored and Criterion offer it via a linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps. The original music by Maurice Thiriet sounds significantly improved via lossless. This makes the conclusion all the more invigorating. I wouldn't say its crisp but it does export more depth. There are optional subtitles for the feature and disc 2 extras.

Regarding the supplements: from the original Criterion 2002 DVD we get the commentary by film scholar Brian Stonehill (Part 1), and commentary by film scholar Charles Affron (Part 2) plus a second Blu-ray (single-layered) with the 5-minute video introduction by director Terry Gilliam, a restoration demonstration and the US trailer. New we get Once Upon a Time: “Children of Paradise,” is a 51-minute 2009 documentary by Julian Bonan on the making of the film and its impact on French cinema. It features interviews with film scholars Edward Turk and Pascal Ory and director Bertrand Tavernier, as well as archival interviews with the film's cast and crew. "The Look of Children of Paradise is a new, 22-minute, visual essay on the design of Children of Paradise by film writer Paul Ryan. It features sketches by screenwriter Jacques Prevert, production designer Alexandre Trauner, art director Leon Barsacq, and costume designer Mayo. The Birth of “Children of Paradise,” a 1967 hour-long documentary featuring interviews with director Marcel Carné; actors Arletty, Jean-Louis Barrault, and Pierre Brasseur; production designer Alexandre Trauner; and others. It revisits the film with key members of the cast and crew. Peter Gehrig discuses the movies influence on the New Wave with such directors as Louis Malle, Jacques Demy and Agnes Varda. There are liner notes in the package featuring an essay by film scholar Dudley Andrew and excerpts from a 1990 interview with Carné. 

***

ON THE DVD: Not much to say here that the images don't tell a story of their own. The Criterion is a marvelous patriarch, and the Second Sight is a vagabond cousin. This comparison shows a little cropping by Criterion on the top edge, but totally forgiven due to the extravagant differences between these two releases. Criterion have put the film on two DVDs (one DVD9, one DVD5), where Second Sight have just used one (DVD9). The Second Sight print appears to have been digitally brightened although still has some very dark scenes. The Criterion contrast is extremely even throughout, and obviously much cleaner and sharper. Second Sight's edition did come out 2 years before the Criterion so its hard to fault them as, to my knowledge, it was the first release of "Children of Paradise" on DVD. Still, lets me honest, Criterion are the Kings of this medium - the greatest DVD production company in the world. Their Extras are very insightful in this package from their 24 page liner notes to their Commentary by Brian Stonehill. This is one film you don't want to skrimp on. Get the Criterion now, if you don't already own it... and if you do, buy a second copy to place in your safety deposit box.

 - Gary W. Tooze


Menus

(Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Second Sight - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)


 

 

 

Blu-ray Disc One Menus

 

 

Blu-ray Disc Two Menus

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920 X 1080 RESOLUTION

Subtitle Sample

1) Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Second Sight - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

Screen Captures

1) Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Second Sight - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Second Sight - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Second Sight - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Second Sight - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Second Sight - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Second Sight - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Second Sight - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 


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Image:

Criterion Blu-ray

Sound:

CriterionBlu-ray

Extras: Criterion Blu-ray

 

Box Covers

Distribution

Criterion Collection Spine # 141

Region 1  - NTSC

Second Sight Films Ltd
Region 2 - PAL
Criterion Collection - Spine #141 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray




 

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Gary Tooze