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Cross of the Living (1962)

La croix des vivants (original title)
Yan, who has just been acquitted of a crime he has not committed, returns to his Flemish village, where he meets hostility, particularly from Franz, the garage owner. Fortunately, Gus, his ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (dialogue) | 2 more credits »


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Credited cast:
Christine Darvel ...
Alain Cuny ...
Baron VonEggerth
Mme Van Dorneck
L'abbé Delcourt / Abbe
Marika Green ...
Jacques Richard ...
Max de Rieux ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jackie Blanchot
Tony Buller
Guy-Louis Duboucheron


Yan, who has just been acquitted of a crime he has not committed, returns to his Flemish village, where he meets hostility, particularly from Franz, the garage owner. Fortunately, Gus, his childhood friend refuses to follow the pack and talks his mother, the richest person in the area, into getting him a job. But Yan is soon drawn to Maria, the sultry girl Gus lives with... Written by Guy Bellinger

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Release Date:

25 July 1962 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Cross of the Living  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Filmed in 1960. See more »

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User Reviews

The weight of the world
23 May 2015 | by See all my reviews

Ivan Govar's name is completely forgotten today. Not that it has ever been famous... And yet this Belgian filmmaker is definitely out of the ordinary. (Guy Bellinger)

This is my last comment on an Ivan Govar film for I have reviewed all his small filmography;and this is probably ,in spite of a very low (and to my eyes,totally unfair) IMDb rating,his best effort .

It's based on the medium-length film of the fifties "Nous N'Irons Plus Au Bois" ;like it,it is inspired by the famous parable of the prodigal son ;it features the main characters of the 42 min work :Yan,Gus,Maria;even the father is represented here by an uncle and the pure Young girl by a wistful aristocrat;and the half-wit who appeared in the house near decay is here a fully developed character .Both movies begin with a press article although "La Croix Des Vivants" only reveals the beginning of the story.

"La Croix Des Vivants" ,completely absent of the French "Dictionnaire Des Films, " boasts a sometimes sublime cinematography and an impressive cast ;if the screenplay loses steam in the second third,it regains its strength in the final segment .

Yan (Giani Esposito) is born under a bad sign: he was denied his share of the inheritance by his stepfather who wanted to favor his own son,a mechanic ,Franz.The Gospel according to saint Luke

Yan was falsely accused of the death of his father,and although he was acquitted ,when he comes back to his village ,everybody turns their back on him ;although the priest(Gabriele Ferzetti) urges his flock to welcome the unfortunate son,the villagers attend the service for show :they are like the snake under the rock which simple-minded Sylvain (Roger Dumas) shows to his old protector in school .Yan is so tired of life,in spite of the contract he signs ,that he refuses to fight and is beaten to death by Franz ;although he is sexually attracted by Gus's lover ,Maria ,he knows that his true love for the mysterious riding girl (Marika Green ) ,under a cold aristocratic father's thumb,is only a dream.

Gus ,the good friend ,has himself an over-possessive mother ,who does not even try to defend Yan when Franz takes the law in his own hands :although her appearance is short,the great Madeleine Robinson makes all her scenes count and gives a performance of a mother worthy of Tennessee Williams .

Unlike in "Nous N'Irons Plus Au Bois" ,the most complex character is that of Gus who outshines the biblical hero who bears his cross;Karl Heinz Boehm -universally known in Europa as the nice emperor Francis-Josef in the Sissi saga ,but who also starred in much more absorbing works such as "peeping tom" ,"the four horsemen of the Apocalypse" and "L'Heure De Verite"- is the stand-out in a topflight cast.He portrays a handsome unhealthy dandy,who goes to Church on Sunday ,but who treats his lover (Pascale Petit)as a whore :he tells his friend that if he wants some sex with her ,he does not care;he goes as far as to tell his mother that she's the only way for his mentally-retarded brother to make love.

Memorable scenes: -the priest at the calvary cross ,imploring a deaf God in a desolate landscape ,superbly enhanced by the use of the wide screen.

-Yan watching the ball in the castle,watching this girl he'll never be allowed to love ;this scene almost segues from a dreamlike sequence to the the harsh reality in the dancing hall where the populace is waiting for the sacrificial lamb.

-Gus ,taking Maria to the Church ,as though she were a bride.

I wish Govar had made more movies like this one ;if you should see only one of his works,this is definitively the one to choose

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