“I would give up all my films to have directed Children of Paradise,” François Truffaut famously said of Marcel Carné's 1945 masterwork – high praise, considering Truffaut debuted with The 400 Blows.

The epic romance – long considered France's answer to Gone With the Wind, and perhaps the country's greatest film – returns to the big screen courtesy of the South Bay Film Society, which heroically booked the latest DCP restoration on two screens at the AMC Rolling Hills in Torrance for Thursday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m.]
Sensual and sweeping, Children of Paradise revolves around two Parisian theaters and four very different men courting the affections of a single woman throughout the 1820s and '30s. Jealousy, changing feelings and the slow passage of time alter the dynamic among Garance and her quartet of suitors several times over. Carné and screenwriter Jacques Prévert envision the theater (the “paradise” of the title refers to the balcony) as both a temporary escape and a proving ground where every emotion is just as real as it is offstage, sometimes more so.

Children of Paradise toes the line between comedy and tragedy throughout, with frequent allusions to Othello and Desdemona providing a hint as to which way it will eventually lean – and love sagas this moving are rarely free of heartache.

Children of Paradise is at AMC Rolling Hills 20 on Thursday, Feb. 6. Info at southbayfilmsociety.com.

Michael Nordine on Twitter:

Public Spectacle, L.A. Weekly's arts & culture blog, on Facebook and Twitter:

LA Weekly