The little known story of Marcel Mangel, the aspiring actor who would go on to become Marcel Marceau, the greatest mime artist of all time, is the inspirational subject of Resistance. In times of unimaginable suffering, Marcel (played by Jesse Eisenberg) was a beacon of hope for the lost and the desperate. In the beginning, all he wanted was to pursue the arts and reach the pinnacle of performance. But at the height of the German invasion of France in World War II, Marcel joined fellow freedom fighters to provide safe passage for orphans into Switzerland.
Marcel worked at his father’s butcher shop, serving his friend Emma (Clémence Poésy), the girl he believed he would one day marry. Emma is highly political and outspoken and in an endeavour to win her affection, Marcel agrees to join a dangerous mission: to save 123 Jewish orphans from the grasp of the German Nazis and the ruthless Obersturmführer of the SS, Klaus Barbie (Matthias Schweighöfer).
The perilous journey pushes Marcel to use his talent in creative ways to evade the Germans – for a while anyway. Emma is captured and is pressured to give up the location of the resistance fighters, but in the face of horror, she does not and is let go.
Pretending to be teachers travelling with a childrens’ choir, they board the train to Switzerland, where along the journey they are stopped – by Barbie. Marcel conducts a song from the group designed to distract the German’s intentions. Barbie is entranced; himself married and soon to be a father. The act works; with their suspicion deflated, the Germans alight the train and the group escapes the first of many close scrapes with the patrol.
The film ends as it begins, in 1945. At a speech to the Allied soldiers, General Patton (played by Ed Harris) tells them the moving story of a young Frenchman who, with courage and an unshakeable will to survive, performed a true miracle.
The whole experience defined Marcel, and he declared more than once, that his “art of silence” in many ways related to the silence of the survivors of the concentration camps.
Resistance is available to rent now from Foxtel Store until 11 July and will soon have limited cinema screenings nationwide. Check your local guides for details.
From 29 July, Resistance is available to rent from iTunes, Google Play, Sony (Playstation Network), Microsoft (Xbox Network), Foxtel PPV, Bigpond, Fetch & Quickflix.
Running time: 120 minutes
Written and directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Clémence Poésy, Matthias Schweighöfer, Félix Moati, Édgar Ramírez, Ed Harris