IU Cinema shares ‘symbol of freedom’ on big screen

When “Children of Paradise” showed up in IU Cinema’s summer line-up as part of the university’s Summer Festival of the Arts, I was ashamed of myself.

The cinema’s notes refer to it as “the greatest French film of all time,” but I didn’t know much about it. (Side note: I grew up watching movies with my dad and brother so my girlfriends often tease me about having “guy” movie taste, demonstrated by my big-screen love of martial arts-style fighting, superheroes, transforming cars and invading aliens.)

So when IU Cinema announced it would screen the French language film at 7 p.m. today, June 1 and June 2, I decided to do a little background research. Set in 19th century Paris, “Children of Paradise” tells the tale of a woman loved by four different men — a mime, an actor, a thief and a count.

"Children of Paradise," or "Les enfants du paradis"

I was astonished to find it had been shot in occupied Paris and Nice during World War II, a time period that fascinates me. The film’s sets were moved between the two cities, while the Jewish designer and composer hid their participation from the Nazis using pseudonyms. It opened in Paris after the city was liberated, and ran for 54 weeks.

The president of the foundation that recently restored the film told The Miami Herald it became a “symbol of freedom.” Later lambasted by New Wave directors as old-fashioned, however, it fell out of favor.

Now, Bloomingtonians can experience the fully restored film on IU’s very own big screen — and it sounds like it’s going to be amazing.

“To be able to see … this restored version is like going to church,” Coral Gables Art Cinema director Robert Rosenberg told the Miami newspaper. “It’s a religious experience.”

Tickets are $3 for students and $6 for members of the public, and are available at the IU Auditorium Box office or online.

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