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A Civil War civilian is to be executed by hanging, but when the plank is kicked away, instead of breaking his neck, he manages to miraculously escape unscathed or did he?Written by
Jonah Falcon <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This short film is only one part of a three-story anthology film by Robert Enrico called "Au coeur de la vie" (1962) (please see elsewhere in IMDb). All three stories are inspired by Ambrose Bierce short stories about the American Civil War.
Something very strange happened to this particular episode of "Au coeur de la vie" (whose title is the translation of Ambrose Bierce's collection of short stories "In the Midst of Life"). First of all, it was proposed as Best Short Subject at the Oscars in 1962 and won, even though it had probably never been shown commercially that way in the US or anywhere else. Second, it was chosen as the very last episode of Rod Serling's TV series "The Twilight Zone", in a cost-cutting gesture.
It is this truncated version that is generally available on VHS and DVD today. It is unfortunately not the way its director wanted it and the two other episodes of that film ("L'oiseau moqueur" and "Chickamauga", a.k.a. "La Bataille de Chickamauga") have totally disappeared from everyone's consciousness.
That is really sad as I remember seeing the whole film in a cine-club in 1963 and going through a thoroughly gut-wrenching emotional experience because of the cumulative effect of these three stories. For the record, "L'Oiseau moqueur" ("The Mockingbird") tells of the terrifying confrontation of two brothers on a battlefield and "Chickamauga" relates the famous battle from the point of view of a six-year-old deaf and mute child living on a plantation.
Some producer somewhere probably decided that the entire film would be too intense to be shown in its entirety to an American audience and it has since sunk under the waters of forgetfulness, except for that maimed "Twilight Zone" episode, edited for the inclusion of commercials.
Let us all pray that somebody, somewhere will rescue it from the ravages of time before it is too late and make the whole thing available on DVD, in its original, uncut, uncompromised form, very, very soon
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