Marcel Marceau, the mime who saved hundreds of Jewish children during the Holocaust

The life of Marcel Marceau was taken to the cinema thanks to the film “Resistance”.

Photo: Public Domain

A man has his face painted white. His eyebrows are painted black, the same color as the two “drops” that are near his eyes and the edge of his red lips and the black hat he wears on his head, decorated with a flower. He wears a black and white striped shirt, covered by a gray sweater, and white pants. He executes a couple of moves with his body. His gestures speak, but he never utters a single word. He is not Chaplin, he is Beep, the mime who went around the world with his speechless stories. “Bip is a character that goes from reality to fantasy”, said Marcel Marceau, the man behind that mime.

And although it is not about Chaplin, the protagonist of Modern times It set him on the path to acting. So, when World War II ended, he decided to study dramatic art at the school of a French theater actor named Charles Dullin, who was also his teacher, as was Étienne Decroux, the man who became interested in “body mime”. ”.

Thanks to the talent he showed, he ended up acting in the movies. From her time on the big screen there were short films like in the park, pantomime Y first-class and different movies like We called him Robert, Shank Y Mel Brooks latest folly, among other. In the last silent tape, we see Marceau walking into a room and then making an effort with his body to answer the phone. When he finally succeeds, an officer who is in a hospital accompanied by three other people, asks him, according to what the subtitles say, if he would like to be in the first silent film made in more than forty years. At that moment, what perhaps no viewer would have imagined happens: the silence is broken thanks to his answer “No!”, the only word that is heard during the film.

But perhaps the acting skills that he demonstrated through his gag or pantomime do not compare with those he had to put to the test when he moved from Strasbourg to Limoges in the 1940s. So, as the streets of France had already been invaded by Nazi soldiers, when he arrived at his new home, both he and his brother changed their Jewish surnames. Mangel by Marceau. The inspiration was born from the name of a general of the French Revolution: François Séverin Marceau-Desgraviers. And like many during that time he also lost loved ones. One day, the Gestapo arrested his father, who was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camps.

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