Documentary - Completed 2011

The Last Passage returns to the scene of one fateful night in a farmhouse in the Pyrenees when six strangers from different countries were arrested. The strands of each person’s story unravel to tell the larger story of the hundreds of ordinary people who formed a vast escape network during WWII.

    • Year of production
    • 2011
    • Genres
    • Documentary
    • Countries
    • Languages
    • Duration
    • 83 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Writer(s)
    • Thecla GEESING
    • Producer(s)
    • Iurre TELLERIA (Moztu Filmak), Frederik NICOLAI (Offworld), Agnès JAMMAL (AMO Films)
    • Synopsis
    • The Last Passage is the story of one fateful night more than sixty years ago when six people were arrested in a farmhouse near the Pyrenees. The story of each person tells the larger story of the hundreds of ordinary people who were the World War II escape line known as Comète...a force of human courage in a climate of fear that ran through Belgium, France and Spain.
      It was a wet winter’s night in 1943 when a young widow opened the door of her farmhouse in the French Basque country. Standing outside was a young Belgian woman and three strange men. The group stood wet and exhausted after having travelled more than a thousand kilometres from Brussels.
      It was Dédée de Jongh’s thirty-sixth trip but for her travelling companions, it was their first. One of them was British aviator, Stanley Hope who will always remember that night. It had been a journey involving cunning and planning, false identities and financing by the British Intelligence Service, MI9. It was all organised by strangers such as Dédée so that Allied aviators could escape capture by the Germans. Many other aviators had been saved before him and now it was Stanley’s turn…he was on the last part of the passage. The only thing standing between him and the British who were waiting on the Spanish side to bring him down to Gibraltar were the Pyrenees. Yet, he would never see those mountains for many years.
      That night, seven people sat around a fire - the young farmwoman with three children, an exile from the Spanish Civil War who worked as a farmhand, a Basque smuggler as well as Dédée, Stanley and the other two British aviators. All of them were waiting for it to stop raining when there was a knock on the door. The knock on the door would change all of their lives. One would escape, four would survive and two would never see freedom again. If only it hadn’t been raining…
      More than sixty years later, the repercussions of that night still linger. A woman who never knew her mother. A sister who never saw her brother return to his homeland. An aviator who betrayed the names of an entire family under interrogation, knowing he was sealing their fate. But out of tragedy and betrayal came hope. There were the French Basque neighbours who offered their own home for escaping strangers out of simple kindness. The Spanish Basque exiles who used their connections in a smuggling network in the mountains to help. The Belgian father who refused to save himself but instead, carried on his daughter’s work. When the father was arrested, another young Belgian man replaced him…until he too was arrested.
      After the events of that night in 1943, the line kept going with the work of new helpers and hundreds more aviators were to make the last passage. For them, the legacy of a stranger’s kindness would remain forever.
    • Beginning of shooting
    • Apr 01, 2008
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