France has always found it hard to come to terms with its war history. From the vichy regime and its collusion with the Nazi’s, to the occupations acceptance of murder, theft and control. This has found its way into some of the countries most outstanding films. In PANIQUE we have this reaching its nexus. Monsier Hire (Michel Simon), is a well mannered Jewish man that keeps his live personal. He lives and works in a small portion of the suburbs of Paris. When a woman is found murdered, it is not long before he becomes a suspect. However the logic does not fit. He also has an alibi that places him, no where near the crime. Or so it may have seemed. Alice (Vivane Romance) is a new comer and starts to gain the attention of Monsier Hire. She is in love with another man, who she will do something far more nefarious for.
PANIQUE was remade as MONSIER HIRE in 1989. Patrice Leconte liked extrapolating Hire and his inconsistency. Saint or criminal? Solving a murder mystery while being some what creepy. Julien Duvivier shifts the focus from Hire as creep but still retains the murder mystery. Now, from the director of Pépé le Moko, we expect something richer. So within PANIQUE he explores an entrenched truth, the aforementioned collusion and apathy. Released in 1946, it is very nihalistic. PANIQUE is bleak. It has to be. Made post war, post Vichy France, post Holocaust. A film which is caught in a time hard to define as anything but awful. This captured a theme in French cinema of the period. What did we do, Why did we do it…and principally…How can we live with ourselves. Very However he unpacks its deeply hidden nature in society. Calling out the (in this case) apathy for war collusion. Duvivier fought in the Second War for the Americans. His family suffered under the occupation, as did many in France. Well this is the summation of what powerful cinema can do. Its film as rallying cry.
SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
- New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
- The Art of Subtitling, a new short documentary by Bruce Goldstein, founder and co-president of Rialto Pictures, about the history of subtitles
- New interview with author Pierre Simenon, the son of novelist Georges Simenon
- Conversation from 2015 between critics Guillemette Odicino and Eric Libiot about director Jliien Duvivier and the film’s production history
- Rialto Pictures re-release trailer
- New English subtitle translation by Duvivier expert Lenny Borger
- PLUS: Essays by film scholar James Quandt and Borger