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À la croisée des chemins

92 min., black and white & colour, 16mm
Director Jean-Marie PoitevinPaul Guèvremont
Writer Jean-Marie Poitevin
Cinematographer Paul Morin
Editor Jean-Marie Poitevin
Music Fernand Gaudry
Narration René Lévesque
Principal Cast Denise PelletierJean FontaineCamélienne SéguinDenis DrouinPaul GuèvremontRose Rey-Duzil
Production Company La Société des Missions Étrangères de la Province de Québec
The first dramatic feature film produced by a Quebec religious community, À la croisée des chemins (narrated by René Lévesque) is one of a considerable number of forceful propaganda films for the Catholic Church made in the thirties, forties and fifties. Clearly designed to promote missionary work as a viable option for young men, it tells of Jean Leber (Paul Guèvremont) and his struggle “at the crossroads” between love and “God’s calling.” At the end of his cours classique, he decides to leave his rich, happy family and his finacée, Pauline (Denise Pelletier), in order to become a missionary.

The film, similar to the works of Renaissance Productions and Québec Productions Corporation, offers a remarkable ideological portrait of Quebec before the Quiet Revolution. The values of a lifestyle fostered by a militant Catholic Church – friendship, warmth and an unproblematic family life – are typically foregrounded. But equally apparent, at least in retrospect, are such themes as destructive self-sacrifice, repressed sexuality and the mutually sustaining links between the religious and economic establishments.

By Peter Morris
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