July 22, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
July 22, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

2020 Film ‘Resistance’ Honors Marcel Marceau For Rescuing Jewish Children During the Shoah

Glossed over in March due to the outbreak of COVID-19, “Resistance” is a film not to be missed by Jewish as well as general audiences. Written and directed by Venezuelan filmmaker Jonathan Jakubowicz, himself of Polish-Jewish descent, the film was praised in the Saturday Evening Post as “a testament to how unspeakably awful we as humans can be…and also how astonishingly often the right person emerges at the right time to do battle with the darkness.”

The film stars 37-year old American actor Jesse Eisenberg, well known for his Academy Award-nominated role as Mark Zuckerberg in the 2010 film “The Social Network.” In commenting on his role portraying Marcel Marceau, Eisenberg shared, “My family comes from a part of Poland that is very close to where Marcel’s father came from in southeastern Poland, so in some ways it felt like playing somebody who, were I born with the same genetic makeup but 70 years earlier, I would be him.”

Marcel Mangel, later changed to Marceau to evade identification as a Jew, was born into an Orthodox Jewish family in Strasbourg, France. As a young man, he found himself drawn to an artistic life of performing in cabarets, painting scenic backdrops for his performances and creating original scripts—all to the chagrin of his religious father. Even before the Nazi invasion of Strasbourg, Marceau, 15 at the time, worked in secret alliance with the Boy and Girl Scouts, which helped save the lives of thousands of Nazi orphans who escaped to France from Germany. When the entire town of Strasbourg was rounded up and sent to the south of France, Marceau joined the Resistance in Lyon, which found places of refuge for the orphaned Jewish children. When Lyon was taken over by the Nazis, led by the notorious “Butcher of Lyon,” Klaus Barbie, whose inhumane cruelty was portrayed in the film, Marceau and his peers in the Resistance marched a group of children over the Pyrenees to safety in Switzerland. Throughout his missions protecting the children, Marceau managed to keep their spirits alive and hopeful through entertaining them with his theatrical mime. He even taught them survival skills using mime techniques.

Marceau was known as the 20th century’s most universally famous and beloved mime. He was beloved not just because of his talents and innovations but because his mime art was one of “abundant humanity.” This is alluded to in the opening of the film when General George Patton addresses hundreds of his American troops in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1945 after the Allied victory. They are eerily assembled in a former Nazi rallying ground. Patton praises his troops, saying, “Courage is fear holding on a minute longer. Imagine fighting this war as a civilian. I heard an incredible story about a unique human being, one who makes your heroism in this war worth it all.” With that, Patton introduced the white-faced mime Marceau for one of his debut performances to a wide audience after the war.

Recently, The Algemeiner newspaper published a list of “100 Top People Positively Influencing Jewish Life in 2020.” In the category of arts and culture, Eisenberg is listed for his performance in “Resistance.” In honoring Eisenberg along with 99 other deserving Jews, the introductory paragraph shared, “It’s no secret that the world in general and the Jewish community in particular has seen significant and rising challenges over the past 12 months. History has shown that at times like these, as we face global turbulence and turmoil, the Jewish community can quickly find itself in a position of increased vulnerability. When there is economic uncertainty, disease and racial and class tensions, the temptation to seek a scapegoat is strong.”

“Indeed, we’ve seen a significant increase over the past year of coronavirus-related anti-Semitism…It is for this reason that we compiled our list of 100,” it continued. “Contained within the list are many individuals whose efforts have been vital to heroic, life-saving initiatives, and others who have stood strong against the tide of hate and helped chart a path to a brighter Jewish future.”

The film has been dedicated to the memories of the more than 1½ million children killed during the Holocaust. Hashem yikom damam.

“Resistance” is available on Amazon Prime Video, the Microsoft Store, Google Play, iTunes and VUDU.

By Pearl Markovitz

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles