Sundays and Cybèle

Sundays and Cybele

Sundays and Cybele is a 1962 French film directed by Serge Bourguignon. Its original French title is Les Dimanches de Ville d'Avray (Sundays in Ville d'Avray), referring to the Ville-d'Avray suburb of Paris. The film tells the tragic story of a 12-year-old French orphan girl who is befriended by an innocent but emotionally disabled young French Vietnam War veteran. The film is based on a novel by Bernard Eschasseriaux, who collaborated on the screenplay.


Pierre (Hardy Krüger) is a Vietnam War veteran who is consumed by guilt after having accidentally killed an innocent Vietnamese child when crash-landing his stricken plane. His nurse girlfriend, lives with him on a low key, but potentially romantic basis. Pierre then sees Cybele (Patricia Gozzi) in distress as she is being dropped off at a small orphanage by an obviously unloving father. Eventually, he pretends to be the girl's father, which allows her to get away from the locked orphanage, and he spends time with her every Sunday, for months. Both are lonely, childlike, and in need of a supportive friend.

A doctor, who has a romantic interest in the nurse, finds out about the ongoing relationship, and out of self-interest interprets Pierre's relationship with Cybele as sexual. He passes his imagined conclusions on to the police, who also misread the intentions of the young man.

Pierre has nothing to give Cybele for Christmas, so he takes up her earlier joking challenge to bring her the metal rooster on top of a Gothic church near the orphange. Being a former pilot, he musters the nerve to climb the 300 foot steeple, and uses his knife as a tool to unscrew and bring down the rooster. He approaches the girl, carrying the metal rooster and his knife. However, at this point, the police arrive and shoot him dead to "protect" the child, whom they think is in danger.

Cybele, who had fallen asleep waiting to meet Pierre for their Christmas together in the snow covered park's gazebo, is devastated by witnessing the pointless killing of her friend.


Sundays and Cybele won the 1962 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It also won the Samuel Goldwyn Award at the Golden Globes.


Cybele wears a simple outfit that several reviewers of the period likened to the iconic style of the U.S. first lady, Jackie Kennedy, who spoke French. Both wore a pill box hat and cloth coat, and seemed to reflect a kindred wistfulness and manner.

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