Director: Amit Gupta
Script: Owen Sheers
Cast: Tom Wlaschiha, Andrea Riseborough, Michael Sheen, Iwan Rheon, Kimberley Nixon
Producers: Amanda Faber & Richard Holmes
Country: UK/Germany
Running Time: 92 minutes
Year: 2011
Certificate: 15

War films aren't to everyone's taste, apart from this one. In fact to call it a war film doesn't really convey what it's about.

The premise of Resistance is that D-Day went wrong and the Allies were not only forced back from Northern France but that the Nazis managed to invade England. Whether Nazi Germany would have had the resources to do this by 1944 is a moot point, but that's the premise.

The thing with films that have to convey the feeling of an occupied country is that it can be very hard to do on a limited budget. With Resistance this has been done very well indeed. The film is set in the wilds of Wales for reasons that become clear as the film goes on.

With a title that conveys definite action you would expect a lot of gun-totting action with explosions a-go-go, but as I said this is a non-war war film. The opening sequences show a line of men silhouetted at night against the rugged Welsh countryside disappearing. You don't see their faces but you know what they are going off to do.

The men are all farmers from the various farms in the valley they are seen leaving and the film focuses on the farmer's wives who are left behind to do all the work in their absence. The way this is explained is one of the many examples of how to make a film using the less is more rule of film making. Whereas so many films slap you around the face with endless amounts of scene setting exposition for the slow of brain, Resistance treats you like an intelligent, grown adult and leaves you to join everything up.

Instead of using the obvious mock-ups of iconic British landmarks draped in red swastika banners, or storm troopers goose-stepping past bobbies on the beat and red phone boxes, in Resistance you have things like German officers attending a local village fete. You also have cast members listening to the radio where talk is about the siege of Manchester and that towns such as Bristol and Swindon are now occupied. As a resident of the latter, this subtle bit of background dialogue had the hairs on the back my neck standing up.

This is all added to by the fact that the film has a great pace that is so fitting with the subject matter. When you think about what the Nazis did, the thought about another country being occupied by them is simply terrifying and the film's pace matches this harrowing tone with the young German soldiers moving into the valley where they are clearly not welcome.

All the acting is subtle and thoughtful with no one personality dominating. The ever excellent Micheal Sheen is probably the biggest 'name' in the film and his part is the epitome of subtlety in the few minutes he's on screen.

The main characters are Sarah (Andrea Riseborough), one of the farmer's wives, and Albrect (Tom Wlaschiha) the German officer in charge of small garrison that has been dispatched to the valley. There is a reason they have gone there, this is perhaps the weakest part of the film as it isn't the strongest idea. The soldiers are portrayed as normal young men a long way from home. We all know what the Nazi regime did in the territories it occupied, but at the heart of its armies were young men who were being told to risk their lives in foreign lands. Resistance adds some more depth to common stereotype of the evil Nazi soldier, which is something of a brave move.

Music is also very well used throughout the film, usually because of its notable absence. Resistance shows how powerful silence can be, especially with a subject as difficult as a country being taken over by such an evil force.

Overall Resistance is a brilliant, subtle, well-acted, fantastically well directed film that is so rare today in modern CGI swamped films. You just know that had Resistance had more budget it would have been utterly ruined. This is a must for all war and non-war film fans.

Review by Henry Tucker

About The Author

A film lover with eclectic tastes that range from pretty much any European cinema to war films, comedies and the occasional Hollywood (leave your brain at the door) blockbuster.

13 Responses

  1. Marcua

    Tucker you must be off your trolley or at least a master of sarcasm. The film if possibly the most boring and unattractive piece of movie making I have ever seen. It’s a must for insomniacs

    Reply
  2. Max

    Did we watch the same movie? I saw this yesterday, and the movie I saw was a pretentious load of rubbish about as exciting as watching paint dry. The plot is almost non-existent and the acting is more wooden than the houses the characters live in. Plus, it has numerous subplots which literally lead to nothing and contribute nothing to the main plot, and it’s all edited in slow-motion. The movie lumbers along at a snails pace and then all of a sudden it just up and ends. Cut out all the pretentious shots of actors looking pensive and what you have left is about 20 minutes of flat dialogue and corny nature shots.

    Reply
    • Martyn

      Couldn’t agree more. Watched this last night with 4 other people of mixed ages and gender and we all agreed it was dreadful. Every spoken sentence was preceded and followed by 10 seconds of ‘meaningful’ silence. Every character seemed to spend most of their time gazing into the far distance while the viewer tried to deduce what was going through their minds. After about 40 minutes we unanimously ejected the disc. We have binned the DVD to avoid letting somebody else either borrow it or accidentally waste their time watching it. Dull, boring, awful. Henry Tucker must either have a financial stake or a relative acting in the film.

      Reply
  3. bill major

    A good film, which made me download the book onto my Kindle, I am half way through it and obviously the book fills out a lot of areas which could not be put into the film. A complex and moving story.
    The premise of the film is difficult – that D-Day should fail was a possible but that the Germans would instantly invade Britain in return seems unlikely. The Allied navies in the chanel and their air forces dominated the air (remember the one Luftwaffe airplane raiding the beaches in “The longest Day?). Hundreds of thousands of Allied soldiers were also sat in England in reserve to follow the invasion. After Dunkirk would have been much more likely but that’s not the point. One factor which would come into play at this period [1944-45 winter] would be the A-bomb which the USA had developed and might bring into play in Europe before Japan.

    Reply
    • Bill Major

      I did finish the book quite quickly (not yesterday] and enjoyed the subtlety of it, watched the film again too.

      Reply
  4. Mike Steede

    I was really looking forward to ordering and watching this, having had a long interest in the Auxiliary since first seeing a documentary some time back. Not so much now after the reviews – too bad.

    I like DVDs. They’re excellent for holding good documentary series and decent films, primarily the former.

    Other times they make for good targets out back. I like to use my 13th birthday present 1947-series Remington 521T .22 target rifle to see if I can keep my grouping inside the hole. Sometimes I use its amazing Lyman rear iron sights, sometimes I’ll use the scope. But I find as I get older more often than not I shut my eyes and just see what happens.

    Lost it a long time ago in Canada / Mike S.

    Reply
    • Mike Steede

      Ack! I’m going to watch it anyway – it’s completely necessary, just as with science fiction, when watching alternative history that one accepts holes in the premise. That sort of thing has to be tolerated or it’s impossible to enjoy the story. Larry Niven in his sci-fi novel ‘Ringworld’ received so many questions and criticism from his readers that he had write an entire novel titled ‘Ringworld Engineers’ just to cover the back-story and keep everyone happy!

      M

      Reply
  5. David

    I saw this film despite the recommendation of an acquaintance of mine. I should have listened to him. He was in the film and and was keen to distance himself from it. I spoke to him afterwards to see if he could explain to me what is was all about. He couldn’t.
    If you are thinking about having a night in with this DVD then all I’d say is make sure you have a plan B.

    Reply
  6. Karen

    I’m amazed at the “it’s too slow/dull” criticism – it’s not as though the film was difficult to understand or pretentiously subtle. It was marvellous. The reasons behind Sarah’s actions, and Albrect’s actions, were so human and reasonable and well rounded and believable. I loved it. It was so gorgeous and compelling and unsettling I didn’t want it to end. Can’t wait to read the book now 😀

    I guess if you don’t want a film about troubled people with realistic motivations you could go watch a Michael Bay film 😉

    Reply
  7. Philip

    the most obvious hole is the idea that the germans could have ‘invaded’ England in 1944! this is such a preposterous notion that its a bad as the dad’s army remake stating it happened in 1944. the germans were fed up witn the war and had their hands full stopping the soviets getting to berlin. if they couldn’t have invaded in 1940 with a rag tag British army facing them then in 1944 wth the yanks in the uk…? sheer nosense. The movie as a movie isnt as bad as some make out. Good for a rainy afternoon… I just want to see Alexander dreymon (here listed as Alexander Doetsch) to see how he sounds in German. Other than that, it passes the time adequaty but would not buy it.

    Reply
  8. Andras Nagy

    OK movie but WTF was the ending all about? Burning the map and going into the frigging fog? and what did the German captain see in the guest book? Stupid unclear story but decent acting etc.

    Reply

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