Movie review: Don't resist the movie 'Resistance'
May 22, 2020
On the recommendation of a friend, I rented the freshly released film "Resistance" on Amazon Prime. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, the film is a small peek into the true story of the rescue of tens of thousands of orphaned Jewish children in France by the Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants. I already knew about the many children who were swallowed up into the safety of the Swiss alps, what I didn't know was the true story of Marcel Mangel-later known worldwide as the mime artist Marcel Marceau-and how he saved at least 70 Jewish children through risky border crossings into Switzerland during World War II.
Written and directed by Jonathan Jakubowitz, a Venezuelan filmmaker of Polish-Jewish descent, the film captures the intense trauma children experienced as the Nazis invaded France, as well as the immense humanity displayed through mime by Marceau toward the children he helped to rescue.
"The kids loved Marcel and felt safe with him," Loinger told the Jewish Telegraph Agency in 2007, after Marceau's death. "He had already begun doing performances in the orphanage, where he had met a mime instructor earlier on. The kids had to appear like they were simply going on vacation to a home near the Swiss border, and Marcel really put them at ease."
Interestingly, throughout the movie, this viewer never put together that this is Marcel Marceau's story because he was called by his given name, Mangel, until the end of the movie.
Living in Strasbourg, France, Marceau was recruited to help the French Resistance by his cousin, Georges Loinger, a commander in the secret unit who was part of the OSE, a Jewish relief group that smuggled Jewish children from occupied France to neutral countries. Loinger was credited with saving around 350 children.
Dressed in Jewish Boy Scout uniforms, Marceau and Loinger led the first group of children across France via train and on foot through the forests to the Swiss border. It was the first of many trips.
In addition to his border crossing feats, Marceau also forged identity documents to make Jews look younger so they'd be allowed to flee Nazi deportation.
After the liberation of Paris, he joined the French army and worked as a liaison officer with General George Patton's Third Army. Even though Marceau is a reknowned mime, he was fluent in English, French and German.
At the end of the movie, Patton introduces Marceau, who then gives his first major performance as Bip the Clown to 3,000 troops in August 1944.
Eisenberg did an outstanding job portraying Marceau. He even looks like a young Marceau. There are some violent scenes and some harrowing moments as the children hide from the Nazi captors.
Because of the poignant nature of "Resistance," thoughts of "Life is Beautiful" came to mind. But the movie does not lead its viewers down that path.
"Resistance" is available to rent for $6.99 on Amazon Prime, Vudu, Google Play and YouTube.