Aventure malgache (1944)

Not Rated   |    |  Short, War

Aventure malgache (1944) Poster

While preparing backstage, an actor tells his castmates about an adventure he had during World War II in the Axis-controlled French colony of Madagascar working for the Resistance and clashing with the collaborationist local police chief.




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Alfred Hitchcock

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8 July 2008 | trimmerb1234
| Propaganda, instruction and some entertainment
In wartime with such a shortage of resources, short films made in the French language in Britain in 1944 were undoubtedly made for very distinct purposes. In this situation Hitchcock evidently put his talents entirely at the disposal of the powers that be but, in the absence of concrete information, we can only guess what those purposes were.

In common with "Bon Voyage" - the other of the two films Hitch shot in the French language during the war - the intended audience was Vichy France and the Vichy controlled French colonies (the film is set in Madagascar). Overall they were propaganda films, intended for the French resistance. Each is to some extent instructional particularly warning of pitfalls resistance members could fall into. Here the main character is imprisoned by the Vichy authorities and finds that a defence lawyer has been provided for him. The defence lawyer asks for full details of the man's resistance activities so that he can better defend him. The main character immediately realises that the lawyer is working for the authorities and there solely to extract incriminating information. Noticeable too are the many references to Britain's role in supporting the Resistance - presumably an important part of the film's message.

Overall the film quite slick, pacy and good humoured. Other propaganda elements are not so obvious although presumably the main character's bravery, spirit, wiliness along with his undoubted patriotism (like Petain, a hero of the Battle of Verdun in WW1, indeed known to Petain but having chosen resistance rather than collaboration) perhaps offered something of a role model for the audience. The key line must have been "The greatness of a country is measured by the spirit of its people". Given the reality of occupation and collaboration, "spirit" was one thing that nevertheless could remain undimmed, that national honour could still be fought for and could still be saved.

Interestingly both films were small projects and that it was other directors who handled the now iconic wartime productions.

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