Children of Paradise: Mystery of the Second Credits

Like a lot of long epics, Marcel Carné’s Children of Paradise has an intermission. But there’s something odd about it. When the intermission is over, Part II begins with a full repeat of Part I’s opening credits, which is then followed by a brief summary of Part I’s action. Both seem pointless.

Carné wanted to release Children as a three-hour movie, but the studio, Pathe, wanted it released as two shorter features (like Kill Bill in recent years). Carné’s contract required Pathe to release it as one movie in Paris, but only for the initial run. After that, it was released the way Pathe wanted it–as two separate titles.

Knowing that it would be released both, Carné provided two versions. Part II’s repeat of the opening credits and summary were only meant to be seen when the two parts were not screening together. But Pathe, perhaps out of spite, included those parts at all screenings.

And thus, redundancies that Carné only wanted for a compromised way to present of the film have become part of how it is always shown.

By the way, to my knowledge, Pathe is the oldest film company still in existence. It was founded in 1896, a good five years before movies started telling stories and 15 years before the birth of any Hollywood studio.