Ask any film buff and they'll tell you that Les Enfants du Paradis (Children of Paradise) is the greatest film you've never seen. The 1945 French film was shot during the Nazi occupation of France under impossible conditions -- cast and crew were forced off the film due to Jewish ancestry, sets were demolished, film stock was strictly rationed and food was so scarce that extras were literally starving. When a scene called for a feast, the food would vanish before the cameras could begin rolling. And despite the hardship it was not only finished, it became a triumph of cinema. Centered on the denizens of the early 1800s Parisian theater scene and their various romantic entanglements, the film is said to be shown at least once a day somewhere in Paris -- and this popularity was nearly its undoing. The negative, shot on scavenged film stock, had been duped so many times that it was nearly beyond repair and suffered from mold, missing frames and deep scratches. But tonight all eyes will be on restored print of Les Enfants du Paradis, which screens at 7 p.m. at the Tivoli Theatre (6350 Delmar Boulevard, St. Louis) as part of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum's "France at War Film Series." Admission is free. For additional details, go to www.kemperartmuseum.wustl.edu.
Wed., March 20, 2013