Released in January 1943, when the most important battle of the war, the battle of Stalingrad, was still raging, with Normandy still a year and a half in the future, and the tide not yet turned against Hitler’s war machine. Most of Europe and North Africa was under the jackboot of Nazi tyranny. Many of the actors in the scene were actual refugees who had fled from the Nazis, so the emotions were real. This celluloid moment may capture the spirit of hope and resistance better than any other. It is a true testament to the power of movies.
In real life Jean Moulin, murdered by the Gestapo in 1943, became the symbol of the French Resistance.