Sunday, March 16, 2014

Les Enfants du Paradis

My mother often talked of the magic of Les Enfants du Paradis when I was a child. And no wonder. With thousands of others she saw it shortly after the end of the second World War, and obviously, its magic was so far from the hardships that they had just endured, that it must have made a huge impression.
The story is one of impossible love; a story that has been told many times. So it is not the tale itself, but the way in which it is told that makes it stand out.
What I liked best was not the plot, but the magic that was woven by the theatrical world. This is not a romance of reality, this is a magical world, both within the theatre and on the streets. Never was I lured into thinking that this was real.
The characters are pastiches of themselves: the crook, the actor, the high and mighty, the romantic lover. Hence the story is an allegory. Its allure is in the very theatrical sphere it depicts.
Everything is made big, enormous: all emotions, all action; thus commenting on the actual world outside. It was funny, moving.
However, most captivating of all were the mimed episodes by the main character Baptiste. How expressive he was, how utterly poignant and mesmerising!
In spite of the lack of clarity of an old black-and-white movie, this was 3 hours of enchantment. Its power came across so strongly, that the medium became irrelevant. Or possibly the medium was part of its attraction.

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