Staff Review: Resistance by Iain Jaques, Front of House Assistant

It’s 1944 and D Day has failed. Britain is being invaded by German troops, radio news reports city after British city is being conquered. In a distant remote Welsh valley, the sense of an impending, threatening and unwelcome arrival is in the air.

And so, with skeletal preparation, and accelerated plot uptake, the Women of Olchon valley are met with an invasion force.

Resistance (PG) focuses on the relationship between a German Army Captain (Tom Wlaschiha) and Sarah (Andrea Riseborough,) a war wife hopeful of her husbands’ safe return. With all men from the valley absent, the captain is surprisingly tender and fosters the same spirit amongst his men, with the women of the valley becoming uneasy collaborators. The key relationship is as remote as they come, flashes of desire marred by the unease of the wartime context, mini‐acts of defiance and the aching Sarah feels for her husband, Tom. Flashbacks and dreams are appropriately used to deepen the emotional backdrop. However, the full potency of this relationship is never realised, but it does very well to frame the human, emotional and relationship discourse within the far off arena of war.

The film’s aesthetic is austere, reflecting the era of its setting. Often graded down to cinefilm quality with glitches and muted greens is pitched perfectly and gives the film a sense of time and place. Somehow German voices sound at home in this landscape, their grizzly industrial tones echoing beautifully with the valleys bleak aesthetic. All cements the sense that it is now the women of the valley who have become displaced.

There is superb sound design throughout. Especially during a battle flashback the captain endures. However the sound might have been used to better effect for deepening the impending doom, the seriousness of the countrywide invasion and raising the fear by using the powerful medium of radio a little more. A wooden AM set makes a momentary appearance with a wonderfully adept news reading but personally I would have like to have heard much more. The sheer amount of German language in the film is highly commendable though.

This feature film by Leicester director Amit Gupta is a potent wartime story, which portrays beautifully an alternate past. What is does best is to so effectively frame the hardship a whole generation endured to defeat Germany in World War 2 and brings the human emotional viewpoint to the fore from a contrary, unexpected and interesting viewpoint.

Iain is a Front of House Assistant at Phoenix Square. He has an all too special interest in photographing cities and infrastructure. An exhibition of his black and white images is currently showing at Leicester Peoples Photographic Gallery until 16th April 2012.

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