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Sight and Sound (2009) - Alfred Hitchcock: The Wartime Resistance Films





Alfred Hitchcock: The Wartime Resistance Films

Bon Voyage/Aventure Malgache

Alfred Hitchcock; both UK 1944; Strike Force/Network/Region 2; Certificate PG; 63 minutes; Aspect Ratio 1.33:1; Features: 'Alfred Hitchcock in the News'

Films: Hitchcock's two French-language propaganda films disappeared from sight almost as soon as they were made in 1944 and have been rarely seen since. Shot at Welwyn Studios, Aventure Malgache provides an intriguing counterpart to Marcel Ophuls' The Sorrow and the Pity, made a quarter of a century later, fust as Ophuls' documentary explored the profound French ambivalence about the British during the Second World War and the instinct of many to collaborate with the Nazis, Hitchcock likewise exposes the contradictions of the Vichy era. The story is told in flashback, as an old actor reminisces about when he was in the Resistance in Madagascar, and how the local people reacted to the prospect of the Nazi invasion of the island. The film is hardly rousing propaganda - nor is it vintage Hitchcock (it's static, dialogueheavy and almost completely bereft of the director's usual visual flourishes). However, the storytelling is absorbing and the continual flashbacks and emphasis on role-playing add an extra lay er of complexity.

Bon Voyage is more melodramatic. An RAF pilot explains to his bosses back in London his miraculous escape from behind enemy lines in France. The bosses deconstruct his account, making it clear to the naive young pilot that he has been hoodwinked by the Gestapo. Like Aventure Malgache, the story is told in flashback and is full of characters deceiving one another, but it benefits from a degree of action and suspense missing in its companion piece.

Disc: Image and sound quality are far from sharp. The only extra is Alfred Hitchcock in the News, a compilation of newsreel clips. (GM)