Forces Occultes (Occult Forces) (1943)

Genre: Nazi Wartime Propaganda / Anti-Fremasonary

This is an interesting 50 minute piece of Nazi propaganda from the Vichy era in occupied France during World War II and portrays a paranoid conspiracy concerning Freemasonry.

Pierre Avenel (Maurice Rémy) gives a passionate and rousing speech in the French parliament on how the poor and bourgeoisie are destroying the country. Two listeners discuss how Avenel should be invited to join their Masonic Lodge because he would be of benefit to it. Avenel is approached with the idea and he accepts, believing that it would benefit his political career.
Meanwhile his wife speaks to her friend about her concerns for Avenel and how Freemasons are “mediocre social climbers.”
We are then taken through the many rituals and customs which are performed by the new initiative as he becomes a Freemason. Avenel is warned by the Grand Master of the lodge that he must support his Freemason brothers no matter what, and is told:

“If you betray your oath, you will not escape the vengeance of the brothers spread out across the world and who have sworn to punish perjury”.
In next to no time the lodge members are bombarding Avenel with requests for privileges and help including helping them to escape their charges for petty crime. It’s not surprising that seeing this is Nazi propaganda that the first member to ask for help just happens to be Jewish. Following him is a mixture of shady characters and second-rate businessmen
Avenel starts to become uncomfortable about what he’s let himself into and soon realizes the power of the Freemason goes right to the top of government. The Freemasons are unconcerned for the welfare of France and their only concern is to better themselves.
Things come to a head when at a meeting the Freemasons suggest that France should attack Germany because:

“It will be easy to fight National Socialism whose ceaseless demands are becoming intolerable… and liberate our brother’s reduced to slavery.”
This is all too much for Avenel and he stands up and interrupts the speaker, telling the shocked lodge that what they are being told is untrue. Because of this outburst, plans are made to discredit Avenel, first by physically attacking him one night on his way home and then telling the newspapers of sexual misconduct and drug abuse resulting in him being labeled a psychopath.
While Avenel recovers in his hospital bed, he is told that France has attacked Germany with the help of a Jewish influence.
This film was commissioned in 1942 by the Propaganda Abteilung which was part of the German propaganda ministry in occupied France. When France was finally liberated, the film's writer Jean Marquès-Rivière, its producer Robert Muzard and its director Jean Mamy were purged for collaboration with the enemy. On 25 November 1945, Muzard was condemned to 3 years in prison and Robert Muzard, who had fled, was condemned to death in his absence. Mamy was also condemned to death and executed at the fortress of Montrouge on 29 March 1949.

Maurice Rémy, who played Pierre Avenel ended up settling in Argentina in 1949. I wonder if he had any new German neighbors while he was there.
This film is worth watching for those interested in Nazi wartime propaganda as well as those with an interest in the rituals and inner workings of the Freemasons. My guess is that the rituals and initiation ceremony are probably fairly accurate, giving the viewer the chance to see something which otherwise only takes place behind closed doors.
This film is worth checking out as a fascinating oddity, a piece of odious wartime propaganda and an insider’s look at Freemasonry. I’ll have to try and remember that Freemason’s handshake next time I meet someone important.

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