Bob Dylan And The Children Of Paradise

By Larry Fyffe

The unifying theme (expressed throughout the Untold articles on singer / songwriter / musician Bob Dylan) that brings Bob Dylan’s works together is not so much found in the Holy Bible as it is in the movie ‘Children Of Paradise’.

The film deals with Man’s fate from birth to death under the enchantment of Woman: Robert Graves’ ‘White Goddess’, the Trinitarian Weaver of the Golden Loom – Moon Virgin, Earth Mother, Ace Of Spades, all in one.

The movie features imagined characters based on real people: The child-like Mime who’s in love with Garance, the ‘red flower’ showgirl, and run-around courtesan who uses sex to dominate men; she loves the Mime, but she becomes the mistress of the wealthy and conservative Count de Montray whom she detests:

And the princess and the prince
Discuss what’s real and what is not
It doesn’t matter inside the Gates of Eden
(Bob Dylan: The Gates Of Eden)

Then there’s Nathalie, a mime actress whose performances are affected by her sadness, but she’s the loving wife of the faithless Mime, and mother of his son; there’s Nathalie’s father, a serious but flamboyant actor; there’s the womanless and spiteful ragman; and there’s the fearful thief who aspires to be an actor, and kills the rich Count – filmed as they act out their parts in an absurd circus of tight-rope walkers where nothing ends happily – somewhat akin to Dylan’s song about the Jack Of Hearts, Lily, Big Jim, and Rosemary.

The film makes a strong impression on Bob Dyan – he reprises it’s characters in song:

Ah, the ragman draws circles
Up and down the block
I’d ask him what the matter was
But I know that he don’t talk
And the ladies treat me kindly
And they furnish me with tape
But deep inside my heart
I know I can’t escape
(Bob Dylan: Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again)

Says Garance in the movie: “Simple. You go your way, and I’ll go mine.”

Sings Dylan on a record album::

I’m gonna let you pass
Yes, and l’ll go last
Then time will tell who has fell
And who’s been left behind
When you go your way and I go mine
(Bob Dylan: Most Likely You Go Your Way And I I’ll Go Mine)

Dylan adds a caveat – to be a good mime, one has to learn how to express oneself well, and the same rule applies when using spoken language – lest not just one tight-rope walker, but two, the speaker and the lisener, take a fall:

I didn’t know what you could show me
Your scarf it kept you mouth well hid
I didn’t know how you could know me
But you said you knew me, and I believed you did
When you whispered in my ear
And asked me if I was leaving with you or her
I didn’t realize just what I did hear
I didn’t realize how young you were
(Bob Dylan: Sooner Or Later One Of Us Must Know)

Says the Mime in the ‘Children Of Paradise’ movie: “You were right, Garance. Love is so simple.”

Bob Dylan sings, with double-edged words, full of irony:

Love Is simple, to quote a phrase
You’ve known it all the time, I’m learnin’ it these days
Oh, I know where I can find you
In somebody’s room
It’s a price I have to pay
You’re a big girl all the way
(Bob Dylan: You’re A Big Girl Now)

Says Garance in the film:

“I’m not afraid of thieves. What’s there to steal?”

Apparently, Dylan’s been with her too:

She lulled me to sleep
In a town without pity
Where the water runs deep
She says, ‘Be easy, baby
There ain’t nothin’ worth stealin’ in here
(Bob Dylan: Tight Connection To My Heart)


What else is on the site?

You’ll find an index to our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page.  You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture.

The index to the 500+ songs reviewed is now on a new page of its own.  You will find it here.  It contains reviews of every Dylan composition that we can find a recording of – if you know of anything we have missed please do write in.

We also now have a discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook.  Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

And please do note   The Bob Dylan Project, which lists every Dylan song in alphabetical order, and has links to licensed recordings and performances by Dylan and by other artists, is starting to link back to our reviews


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