WWII saw the French film industry firmly under the thumb of the Nazi occupiers, but in the true spirit of “liberté”, this was the moment in history when French cinema reached its height. Marcel Carné’s Les Enfants du Paradis (Children of Paradise, 1945) is frequently voted the best French film of all time.
It took two and a half years to make and suffered all manner of setbacks, from power failures to storms to the Nazi regime, but the film finally made it to screens soon after the liberation of Paris. Set in the 1820’s, it is a sumptuous three-hour epic with much to say about life in contemporary occupied France. The film’s heroine, Garance, is the embodiment of the French spirit under the German occupation – impossible to subdue.