Fools and Jesters in Literature, Art, and History: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook

By Vicki K. Janik; Emmanuel S. Nelson | Go to book overview

However, not everyone categorized the film as a spectacle of theater life and love. Some saw Les enfants du paradis as essentially a political film-a testimony to the indomitable spirit of the French people against the Nazi occupation. "Barrault, like Carn+00E9, believed that above all, France had to safeguard its spirit" (Turk 219). In the character of Deburau, "whom Jean-Louis Barrault elegantly incarnates in Carné's film, is a symbol, however emasculated, of the mythical spirit of le peuple" ( Storey, Pierrots4). Regardless of how one interprets the film, Barrault's portrayal remains unforgettable.


CRITICAL RECEPTION

While Barrault is most remembered for his role of Deburau in Les enfants du paradis, he must be remembered also as a total stage actor. In particular, we must not overlook his accomplishments as a mime. For Barrault, "life is . . . the language of the body, which he discovered via mime and which he sought to magnify throughout his entire career" ( Corvin89). This search for totality led Barrault to employ traditional means such as masks and dance and more modem ones including sound, light, and film. Barrault never ceased perfecting his art, achieving in his silence a sublime eloquence. "In everything this extraordinary mime imagines, one finds not only style and perfection of detail, but also a fierce grandeur" ( Dorcy56-57). Actor, director, theater manager, and mime: his career is astonishing in its longevity and in its breadth. The following evaluation of his art seems an especially fitting epitaph: "Barrault was born a dancer, made himself into a great mime, and finally delighted in being a dramatic actor" ( Doney57).


SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Primary Sources

Memories for Tomorrow: The Memoirs of Jean-Louis Barrault. Trans. Jonathan Griffin. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1974.

Reflections on the Theatre. Trans. Barbara Wall. London: Rockliff, 1951.

The Theatre of Jean-Louis Barrault. Trans. Joseph Chiari. London: Barrie & Rockliff, 1961.


Secondary Sources

Braun Edward. The Theatre of Meyerhold: Revolution on the Modern Stage. New York: Drama Book Specialists, 1979.

Carné Marcel. La vie à belles dents: Souvenirs. Paris: Pierre Belfond, 1989.

Corvin Michel, ed. Dictionnaire encyclopédique du Théâtre. Paris: Bordas, 1991.

Dorcy Jean. The Mime. New York: Robert Speller & Sons, 1961.

Fletcher Ian, ed. Romantic Mythologies. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1967.

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