I'm the first French user to write about "Cybèle ou Les Dimanches de Ville D'Avray".Serge Bourguignon's work belongs to that handful of movies the reputation of which is much more considerable abroad than in their native country .And when I write "much more" ,I mean it .Other examples are "Au Coeur de la Vie/La Rivière Du Hibou aka Occurrence at Owl Bridge Creek " by Robert Enrico,"Kapo" by Pontecorvo -made with French money and featuring French actors-or "Le Ballon Rouge" by Albert Lamorisse.French TV has not screened it for decades, not even the cultural channel,Arte .It's not available on DVD either.General critic opinion towards the movie adds up to a consensus that ,well,it's OK ,moving,but it's artificial (sic) poetry and mannered cinematography (and nevertheless,it's Henri Decae's).In France ,"Cybèle" is slowly but inexorably falling into oblivion.One should add that it was released when the notorious Nouvelle Vague was ruling and the fusty Cahiers du Cinema were the holy writ and all those who were not part of the young Turks were dismissed as cheesy.
"Cybèle" is perhaps not the masterpiece many people hail abroad,but it's an unique extremely endearing film ,better than 90% of the French movies which were made here in the early sixties.Hardy Kruger,a German actor whose French is perfect is one of the most sensitive thespians of his generation :I urge people who liked his performance to try and see "Le Franciscain de Bourges" where he plays a Nazi priest,a saint in a living Hell ;he refused any fee to play that character.Such is this man! Kruger portrays here a man who suffers from amnesia because of the horrible things he had to do during the war.He is desperately in need of a past.And it makes sense that his journey leads him to childhood.When you are desperate yourself,don't you think of the days when you were a child?Françoise/Cybèle has a -sad- past,but when her father left her,she hasn't got a future anymore.Pierre means everything to her: her father,her playmate,her husband (when you're 36,I'll be 18 ,we will get married!).I've rarely seen a film where two people need each other so bad.Only Carlos(Daniel Ivernel) ,a friend, has understood.Neither the clairvoyant nor the shrink (André Oumansky)with his overblown theories ("He killed a little girl in the war,he'll do it again just to get punished!")can enter their world.
Because there are two worlds: the world of childhood,with the long walks in the landscapes where the trees and the lakes gain another dimension,the games ,the songs ("Aux Marches du Palais" being par excellence a magic tale of an enchanted country where 'the king's horses could drink in the river which flows in the middle of the "so beautiful (=si belle) girl's so wide bed ") and of course Christmas .The adult world is hostile,it means a return to mediocrity, to a stark present (the wedding meal is the best example).It's not a coincidence if the two worlds collide at the fair in the bumper cars !
Let's not forget the stunning soundtrack ,using profane (the Greek Goddess)and sacred music ,French folk songs , noises which recall Musique Concrète (Pierre cannot stand noises) whispering voices -which contrast with the girl's scream: this scream is harrowing ,that of a wounded animal ,the final scream,so to speak.-
Serge Bourguignon could be said to have started his career at the top and worked his way down.Called by Hollywood,he made a... western which sank without a trace ,then directed Brigitte Bardot in the doomed " A Coeur Joie" (1967).It's extraordinary he fell so quickly after the golden start with "Cybèle" .