Was it really what this film longed for in retrospect? Did the later world-famous pantomime Marcel Marceau actually put a smile on the faces of traumatized Jewish children by imagining with them blowing out a candle that didn’t even exist? Did Marceau train the children in the art of silence for survival purposes?
The fairy tale of making invisible
And was he actually crouching with his protégés in the treetops near the Swiss border and making himself symbolically invisible with them when the Nazi hunters were already hot on their heels on the ground?
The fact is: the artist, who after 1945 fascinated audiences around the world as a clown Bip with his face painted white, saved the lives of almost 100 Jewish children during the Second World War. Disguised as a scout, he guided them in several groups across the Alps to Switzerland.
Marceau risked everything for the orphans
Marceau, who grew up as an Orthodox Jew by the name of Marcel Mangel and the son of a butcher in Strasbourg, had joined the French Resistance. He risked everything for the orphans to save them from the Germans’ fury of annihilation.
What a comforting idea: the artist Marcel Marceau (played by the American Jesse Eisenberg, known from “Social Network”) is resisting the barbaric occupiers with his very own means.
The film doesn’t care about historical truth
It is surprising that no one has long since discovered this story for the cinema. It’s great that the Venezuelan director Jonathan Jakubowicz pays extensive tribute to this special resistance fighter in “Résistance”. And it’s a shame that the film basically doesn’t care about historical truth.
As if Marcel Marceau’s life were not rich enough for a film, the director and screenwriter Jakubowicz invents a kind of duel with the dreaded Gestapo chief in Lyon. SS-Obersturmführer Klaus Barbie was known as the “butcher of Lyon”. Marceau had ended up in Limoges. The distance between them is almost 400 kilometers.
After all, this role offers Matthias Schweighöfer the opportunity to embody a sadistic Nazi par excellence. Schweighöfer – also as a producer – creates his Barbie like a psychopathic serial killer, some of whom have been in the cinema since “Hannibal Lecter”.
Marceau’s descendants have distanced themselves from the film
The director also invents a love story (with Clémence Poésy), and Ed Harris appears as the eloquent US General George S. Patton in a meaningful framework. Director Jakubowicz does not shy away from instrumentalizing history as he likes. After all, Jesse Eisenberg is convincingly cast as an almost fragile-looking pantomime.
Marcel Marceau’s descendants have distanced themselves from the film “Resistance”. One can understand that.
„Resistance – Widerstand“, Director: Jonathan Jakubowicz, with Jesse Eisenberg, Matthias Schweighöfer, 122 minutes, FSK 12