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In the Midst of Life (1963)
"Au coeur de la vie" (original title)

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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 78 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 4 critic

This Civil War anthology adapts three Ambrose Bierce stories "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," "Chickamauga" and "The Mockingbird."



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Title: In the Midst of Life (1963)

In the Midst of Life (1963) on IMDb 7.4/10

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Adapted from a short story by Ambrose Bierce, a young, deaf-mute witnesses the carnage of the American Civil War as a surrealistic dream.

Director: Robert Enrico
Stars: Pierre Boffety
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A Civil War story by Ambrose Bierce of a Union Army soldier who, in the cover of night, kills a Confederate soldier, only to discover the next day that the soldier is his twin brother.

Director: Robert Enrico
Stars: François Frankiel, Eric Frankiel


Credited cast:
Roger Jacquet ...
Peyton Farquhar (segment "Rivière du hibou, La")
Anne Cornaly ...
Mrs. Farquhar (segment "Rivière du hibou, La")
Stéphane Fey ...
Union Officer (segment "Rivière du hibou, La") / Pvt Greyrock (segment "L'oiseau moqueur")
Pierre Boffety ...
Johny (segment "Chickamauga") (as Le Petit Pillou)
Frédérique Ruchaud ...
Johny's Mother (segment "Chickamauga")
François Frankiel ...
Pvt John Greyrock (segment "L'oiseau moqueur")
Eric Frankiel ...
Pvt Willian Greyrock (segment "L'oiseau moqueur")
Jean Mauvais
Fred Lissou
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Micheline Caty
Pierre Danny
Paul de Roubaix
M. Domant
Richard Glanz
Harold Herbsman


This Civil War anthology adapts three Ambrose Bierce stories "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," "Chickamauga" and "The Mockingbird."

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Drama | War





Release Date:

21 February 1968 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Am Herz des Lebens  »

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Did You Know?


This feature was a selection of the first New York Film Festival (1964). See more »


Edited from L'oiseau moqueur (1962) See more »

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User Reviews

Tales of the Civil War .
26 March 2007 | by See all my reviews

Although it was made during the Nouvelle Vague days ,it's not Nouvelle Vague stuff.It's simply FRench cinema ,when it is at its most inventive ,its most moving,its most beautiful.If you do not like Jean-Luc Godard ,if Eric Rohmer makes you yawn your head off,and if you think that Jacques Rivette makes movies for the happy few you are not part of,"Au coeur de la vie" was made for you.Robert Enrico came in blaring,and unfortunately did not come out the same way.

Simply ,"Au coeur de la vie" is the lost forgotten treasure,the masterpiece of the early sixties almost nobody knows even in France.Its three segments were made separately but they form a seamless whole ;the third segment ,"La RIvière du Hibou" (aka "occurence at owl creek bridge" )is so mesmerizing,so fascinating ,so stunning that not only it became part of "the twilight zone" series but it also inspired Adrian Lyne's excellent "Jacob's ladder".

But it was a shame to get "La Rivière du Hibou out of its context! The three segments MUST be seen as Enrico wanted them to be !Let it be so!

"L'oiseau moqueur" is a complex story involving a soldier who may or may not have killed an enemy (?).The landscapes in the forest are filmed as they never were before (it might be a French forest but who cares?) and four decades later,"the BLair Witch project" tried to do what Enrico did circa 1960.The forest seems sometimes a place of quietness and serenity with the continuous noise of its wild life ,but it may soon become a disturbing threatening trap.As if it were not enough,Enrico introduces a sensational dream sequence -at first we think it's a new segment- where the mocking-bird,the dead woman and the twins may seem out of place ;but further acquaintance shows us that they prepare the last scene with its astonishing unexpected end.

"Chickamauga" ,the second segment is the best anti-war manifesto since Abel Gance's "J'accuse "(1918 and 1937).An user wrote that "Gladiator" borrowed elements from the third segment and when you reach such a level of creativity,it's not surprising.A child (at the end,we learn something about him which "explains" ,so to speak,his attitude)lives in a house in the South .One day he goes for a stroll in the forest.From a distance,war is raging ,to the sounds of "Dixieland" and "the battle hymn of the republic" .We will see nothing of the battle.Night has fallen.The child is going though the woods,where the dead bodies piled up .He plays the bugle and the soldiers awake and follow him ,as if he were the pied piper ,in some kind of dance macabre.A sequence to rival the wake of the Dead in Abel Gance's classic .The strength of the pictures will leave you on the edge of your seat.

"La Rivière du Hibou" is the most famous segment and has sometimes been shown alone as I mentioned before.I wrote a comment on it a few weeks ago ,(see this title)so I will not write a detailed review.Suffice to say its influence was essential on the fantasy and horror genre .It can be depicted as an hymn to the nature ,to love (the wife who is waiting) and to life .Man's justice,man's war can do nothing against the light of a sunny day.Life is short,so we 've got to make the best of what it's left to us,even if it were for a few seconds.

"Au coeur de la vie" ,although very ambitious in scope,although going to peaks of visual beauty (or horror) ,is accessible to anyone.

Robert Enrico would never come up with such a chef d'oeuvre again.Three movies as brilliant as this one would have challenged the notorious Nouvelle Vague and would have changed the face of French cinema forever.


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