Vichy France: The French Turning Against themselves, to the Germans

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Vichy France is a period of French history that has only fairly recently begun to be examined for what it truly is: a period in which many of the French turned against their own state and collaborated with the German forces to betray their own country. Until the eighties, the Vichy Regime was regarded as “an aberration in the evolution of the French Republic” (Munholland, 1994) , repressed by the French in an attempt to regain their national pride. ‘Lacombe Lucien’ (1974), directed by Louis Malle is a film which aims to capture the ambiguity of the era through the documentation of fictional collaborateur, Lucien.
Lucien is an uneducated country boy with highly apolitical views, as is apparent from his lack of attention to the radio
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However, Malle disputes this idea that Lucien or other collaborators in his situation were evil, with the notion that “Lucien was a victim of circumstance, his misadventure an accident that could have befallen others like him” (Jankiwski, 1991). This is apparent within the film as we know that Lucien often felt ostracised, through Malle’s use of the mise-en-scene. For example, there are several shots taken from inside a window with Lucien looking inwards from the outside. This highlights his exclusion from the others within village and therefore created a need for him to have somewhere to belong. This idea is consolidated with the fact that he only joined the Milice after being rejected from the French resistance, implying that he was indeed searching for a cause. Furthermore, his father is in prison for the duration of the film, so his initiation into the Milice may have been an attempt to have create an authority figure for himself. When all these factors are assembled, it is obvious that he would have been highly impressionable, particularly to the advances of the Milice, who were altruistic towards him when no one else was. In a sense, Lucien was seduced by the Milice. This is similar to the experiences of many other collaborators, as they were seduced into collaborating through short-term ecomonical benefits such as the promise of a better paying job in Germany that involved helping the war efforts of the opposing
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