Occult Forces (1943)

I was pondering the other day the relative merits of blogging here about films people may have actually heard of versus films like this one. Because, really, any dickhead can review new releases; it takes a special dickhead to review an anti-Masonic propaganda film produced by a collaborationist film company in Vichy-period France on the orders of the country’s German occupiers. I find myself puzzled by it as a film; as I haven’t exactly studied the history of wartime film exhibition in France, I’m left wondering where and how the thing was actually shown. Clocking in at well under an hour, I presume it was intended as a kind of supporting feature, if France had B-features back then, I don’t know. As for the target audience, I don’t know. French Masonry at that time apparently took the progressive, Protestant and Republican side of French politics, so I presume it was tailor-made to appeal to conservatives and Catholics… but would even they have taken seriously the film’s contention that Germany was the victim of French aggression in 1939? Pauvre Allemagne! Apparently their invasion of Poland had nothing to do with it, it was all down to the perfidy of the Masons and the Jews (who actually have oddly little to do in this film)… Director Jean Mamy was a lapsed Mason himself and the film insists the ritual that takes up a fair chunk of the film was authentic, and perhaps it was. There’s one shot during the ritual where the camera does a 360-degree pan of the chamber and all the Masons are pointing swords at the camera; it’s the one genuinely impressive scene in a film that otherwise serves mainly as a mediocre historical curio, at least if you’re not one of the numerous far-right idiots I’ve seen celebrating it online as still-relevant gospel truth. And if you’re taken in by this, you probably deserve to be…

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