In Paris Parks


Reviewed by: Chris

In Paris Parks
"Like a loving home video."

I’ve only come across two films by Shirley Clarke focusing on children. One is her film made in aid of impoverished and malnourished Third World children, A Scary Time. This one, made six years earlier, is more lyrical. Almost a ‘city symphony’ of children playing in Paris parks.

Paris was a city that Clarke spent considerable time in and this is perhaps her tribute to it through the simple eyes of children at play. And sometimes, not just children. We see young and old at play in various ways.

Copy picture

In the context of Clarke’s overall approach to film, it emphasises her feeling that we all have to learn to ‘play’ to be creative and experience creativity (for her, this was especially true with video – although In Paris Parks was filmed on 16mm).

The shortcoming of the film is that such reflections that might be made in the context of her overall work are not particularly self-explanatory in this short itself. Kids on hobby-horses. Older people playing cards. Children feeding animals at the zoo - a brown bear, pigs. A Punch and Judy scene. I didn’t easily relate to the desultory subject matter and noticed several other members of the audience seemingly feeling irritated.

The film is mostly, at least to this viewer, of interest in comparison to her New York cityscapes, such as Brussels Loops. Filmmaker DeeDee Halleck called it: “a lyrical look at gesture and movement in a public landscape.”

While some of Clarke’s films are rather difficult and aimed at the connoisseur, In Paris Parks plays like a loving home video of the capital’s children, and maybe of adults who have remembered how to be children at heart.

Reviewed on: 08 Jul 2008
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An exploration of children's experiences in the park.

Director: Shirley Clarke

Year: 1954

Runtime: 13 minutes

Country: US


EIFF 2008

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