Cinema and anti-Freemasons propaganda

Cinema and anti-Freemasons propaganda

Poster from the movie Forces occultes, produced by Robert Muzard, Nova-Films, 1942

© Museum-Archives-Library- Grande Loge de France

Publication date: September 2016

Professor of modern history at the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis.

Historical context

Vichy declares war on "secret societies"

From August 13, 1940, less than two months after the dramatic end of the campaign in France and the armistice, the Vichy regime promulgated a law banning secret societies. It will be Occult forces, which to "be true" will be shot both at the Palais-Bourbon, since the National Assembly has been put on leave by the French state, and at the headquarters of the Grand Orient. Scenes that are not shot in situ, are done in the studios of Nova Films in Courbevoie where a temple has been reconstructed from photographs taken in the Grand Orient. The poster is produced by the graphic designers of Nova-Films on an idea by Jean Marquès-Rivière.

The hero of the film is MP Avenel, who naive and sincere, made the mistake of accepting the invitation of the Freemasons to join them. When he discovers that the Freemasons were involved in all the misfortunes that France went through in the pre-war period: Popular Front, scandal of the Stavisky affair, in association with the Jews or with Anglo-Saxon finance, he decides to break the oath which requires him to keep secret the secrecy of order under penalty of a horrible death and to denounce the criminal acts. His "brothers" then decide to eliminate him. He miraculously survives this assassination attempt but when he wakes up in his hospital bed, it is too late, the anti-France conspirators have turned the country into the tragedy of war against Germany, despite the unpreparedness of the French armies.

After seven months of shooting and post-production, the film was presented to all of Paris of the collaboration and to journalists on March 9, 1943 in a private session on the Champs-Elysées, before being shown in Paris theaters and in the provinces. . On the other hand, he experienced a second life at the end of the XXe century and until today because of its strong following in anti-Masonic and conspiratorial circles, where it is presented as a "documentary" and not as a fiction.

Image Analysis

The poster for an anti-Masonic and collaborationist film

The poster is rich in written information that occupies almost forty percent of its surface. The focus is on the film's producer, Robert Muzard, and his production company Nova-Films, closely linked to Nazi propaganda in occupied France, for which he makes documentaries. The writings of disclosure of the XVIIIe century headlined on "the secrets of the Freemasons unveiled". The poster uses the same vocabulary to fit into the tradition of anti-Masonicism. But it emphasizes the novelty of the cinematographic medium: "the mysteries of Freemasonry unveiled for the first on screen". The title refers to the denunciation of the anti-France forces against which the National Revolution and Marshal Pétain are fighting. It was these forces: corrupt parliamentarians, "Jewish peril", Freemasons sold to the interests of the international plutocracy that threw France into war in 1939 and defeat in 1940 by pushing for war against Germany.

The visual of the poster, like the film itself, is grim. The scene comes from the initiation ceremony of the film’s central character, MP Avenel. Two Freemasons dressed in their master aprons keep him masked, shackled and shirt open, while the third is pointing a sword at him. After taking the oath, he will be bound for life to the Masonic order, to which he must surrender. His brothers will protect him, but if he tries to regain his freedom, their swords will stab him. In fact, in the film, when Avenel decides to escape and expose the Masonic conspiracy, two "brothers" pursue him in the street and stab him.


Unmasking the Judeo-Masonic plot

Occult forces intends to denounce the Masonic peril at the origin of the collapse of 1940. It draws on the strength of a fiction, the script of which features positive figures: the hero's wife, hostile to the Freemasons; the naive and manipulable hero who strives to redeem himself; and Machiavellian figures: corrupt MPs, Jews - notably in the person of a hot-tempered aeronautical engineer - all Freemasons. The poster already gives a taste of the dramatic tension. The hero is at the threat of a sword. His masked eyes cannot assess the threat hanging over him, like the France of IIIe Republic which rushed into a war that was not its own.

Present on the poster, the compass and the intersecting square, classic symbols of Freemasonry also set the tone of the film: it is about unmasking the occult forces at work. In case the public does not immediately identify the symbols, the three dots serve as a reminder that it is the "three point brothers", these eternal plotters, who are in the driver's seat. The first frame of the film makes a direct connection between Masonic and Jewish plots since a large spider straight out of the Jewish peril descends on France which it encloses in its evil web. However, like the poster, it is struck by the square and the compass.

  • Vichy regime
  • conspiracy


Antoine Compagnon, The Bernard Faÿ case. From the College of France to national indignity, Paris, Gallimard editions, La Suite des Temps, 2009.

Jean-Louis Coy, Occult forces. The Judeo-Masonic plot in the cinema, Paris, Véga editions, 2008 - includes the film in cdrom.

To cite this article

Pierre-Yves BEAUREPAIRE, "Cinema and anti-Freemasons propaganda"

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