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The Children of Paradise

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  • The Children of Paradise

    Just finished up this wonderful film. I thught I read somewhere that it was one of the influences for Jerry C....which would make sense with Pierrot in the movie. True??

    As Jerry is my favorite character of yours I was wondering if you cared to share any insites into how you came up with him?

  • #2
    It could well be my favourite film of all time, though I have a strong affection for several other great French movies, including L'Atalante and
    Le Million. It wasn't an influence on Jerry Cornelius, though I was attracted to it because of its featuring of Debareau, the great French pierrot. Cornelius's links with Commedia dell'Arte and with English popular pantomime and 'Pierrot troupes' are stronger, but they all go back to similar, popular sources. What attracted me to these forms of entertainment is pretty much the same thing which attracted to pulp fiction and its antecedents the Penny Dreadful. Those elements continue to be, if you like, my well-springs. I like the way in which such fiction, for instance, plays fast and loose with time. In one of my favourite Penny Dreadfuls -- the famous The Blue Dwarf -- Dick Turpin not only has adventures in the 18th century but encounters, as well as the Blue Dwarf himself, Chingachgook the Mohican (in a sequence set on a mythical American frontier even stranger than Karl May's), Iron Dick
    and many others. He is also in league with Rob Roy MacGregor (part of the time in America) and, through the cycle of Dick Turpin tales I have in my collection alone, Sixteen String Jack, Claude Duval, Tom King, Jack Shephard, Jonathan Wild and many others, most of whom were not his contemporaries (the Bow Street Runners, who are Dick's recurring nemesis, were not formed until well after his death on the gallows, for instance). Add to this the recurring plots of the Commedia and the taste for elaborate pantomime versions of legendary English (mostly) heroes, such as Herne the Hunter or Harlequin and the Demon's Oak, which includes such characters as Ann Boleyn in King Hal's Bedroom and The Caves of Despair (followed by a Grand Transformation Scene) in which magically all characters are turned into characters in the Harlequinade (itself developed from Italian and to some degree French originals) and you'll get some idea as to why I regard all this as a strong influence not only on my Cornelius stories but also the Dancers at the End of Time and The War Amongst the Angels sequence, among others!
    The way in which the love triangle in Les Enfants du Paradis echoes the recurring triangle of Harlequin, Colombine and Pierrot was not actually derived by me from the film but of course I was strongly attracted to the film because of that. I didn't see it until long after I'd developed these notions because before you could get it on video it was almost never shown in English theatres, due to some sort of copyright restrictions. This was true of a number of great silent movies, which were owned by one man. Fortunately, thanks to Kevin Brownlow, in whose movie It Happened Here (about the take over of Britain by the Nazis) I was an extra, many, many great silent pictures have been made available to the public, often with new full orchestra scores. That was a diversion, I suppose. But silent movies as well as mime have had a strong influence on my work. And French classic movies in particular have a quality I find especially attractive.

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    • #3
      Mike, you were an extra in It Happened Here? I've read about the film but never seen it. How did you get involved with that? Were you visible on screen, or were you just part of a crowd? :?
      'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

      Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)

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      • #4
        Dick T. went even further in Lion - prehistoric beasts, indeed!

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        • #5
          Just part of the crowd. Brownlow couldn't afford to pay anyone sop we all turned up in whatever clothes seemed appropriate. I haven't actually seen the movie at full length, just a showing of part of it in the 60s.

          Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
          The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
          Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


          Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
          The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
          Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

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          • #6
            Great Film - Les Enfants du Paradis ...! Among my top 20 all time.
            Etienne Decroux who played Barrault's father gave mime classes in Paris in the 70's (and later too, I guess). Person I know very well got part of her training there, but was pretty turned off by his attitudes and also attempts to assign female students to inferior roles - he even insisted they wore skirts during lessons!
            Which she refused, and got away with it!
            Google ergo sum

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