French Language Films - Children of Paradise (1945)

One of the best French language films, Children of Paradise movie (Les Enfants du Paradis) by Marcel Carné, is among the most loved classic old movies from France.

In 1995, French film directors, actors and other professionals drew up a list of best French films of all time. Children of Paradise took the first place.

The romantic drama movie was filmed during Second World War under difficult circumstances. It was the most expensive of classic French films up to that time.

French Language Films Graffiti - Children of Paradise (1945) by Marcel Carné

French Language Films – Plot Teaser

In Paris of 1827, a young beautiful performer attracts affections of three men: a mime artist, an actor and an intellectual criminal. The girl returns the mime’s love, but leaves with the fourth man – a rich count.

She comes back to Paris 6 years later and meets the three men again, with dramatic consequences.

French Language Films – Movie Review

Children of Paradise is the kind of movie that is created by a nation only once. It is to the French what Gone with the Wind film is to the Americans and War and Peace movie is to the Russians.

The movie was a daring undertaking. The historic epic required participation of many extras, largest studio set in France up to that time and the biggest budget that a French movie had seen. What makes this classic French film even more prodigious, is the fact that filming took place during Second World War, with France under Nazi occupation.

Despite the war and difficult living conditions, French people wanted entertainment. Movies were a perfect way of escaping from oppression. As a result, French movie industry was booming.

Marcel Carné, movie director, recalled that he “could more readily get money to make movies” during the war than any time before or after.

Movie Ratings


Rotten Tomatoes


Love it!

97% by critics

94% by viewers


One of the best French films is so flawless on screen that it's hard to imagine there were troubles during production. And there were many. The expensive set, which cost close to 10% of the budget, was destroyed by a storm and had to be rebuilt. There were not enough materials, costumes and film supplies. Extras were often hungry. A rumor was circulating that the movie director had to poison food used in some scenes to preserve it from being eaten.

Gestapo agents were lurking on the set looking for resistance fighters, many of whom were employed in the production. French movie’s composer and designer were Jewish, which, if known by Gestapo, could have not only halted the production, but also cost lives. Marcel Carné wrote: “I do not know if the danger of the enterprise is understood today.”

Bit of Trivia - Movie Title

The title of one of the best French films has many meanings, as it was intended by the movie director. One of the meanings takes its origin in the 19th century theatre world. “Le paradis” (paradise), was a slang expression for the cheapest and the highest seats. In England, those seats were similarly called “Gods”.

French Language Films - Children of Paradise (1945)

Children of Paradise movie came to epitomize France’s strength in the face of oppression. However, Marcel Carné did not include an intentional political message. The movie is a love letter to the world of theatre, pantomime and France.

The film has a classic old movies feel because of camera movement and lighting specific to that era of movie-making. However, acting and dialogue are refreshing to this day.

Children of Paradise movie, symbolically, was the first French film that came out after the liberation. It was an instant success among audiences and critics. In France film played continuously for a year.

It was then much criticized by the leading French New Wave filmmakers of the 60’s, François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Goddard. Marcel Carné, one of the most appreciated French film directors, said in an interview that Goddard never even said as much as “hello”. However, the public continued to love the film. In the 80’s, Truffaut acknowledged that he would have given up all of his movies “to have done Children of Paradise”.

French Language Films – Movie Recommendation

One of the best French movies is over 3 hours long, but it keeps you glued to the screen for the entire time. Children of Paradise movie is based almost entirely on exceptional performances by top French movie stars of the time. You will wish you understood French language to fully enjoy one of the best dialogues in classic French films.

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