Tuesday 15 November 2011, 12:02
So much is documented about the heroics and bravery of the French resistance under the shadow of Hitler, yet Britain had its own ranks of secret passionate fighters during World War Two.
This hidden home defence force forms the subject of an upcoming film adaptation of the novel Resistance, by Welsh writer Owen Sheers, set in the isolated Welsh border valley of Olchon.
Resistance imagines a world where German soldiers were able to invade British soil and occupy half the country, as the opposition fighters toiled to halt their advance.
Resistance film poster. Courtesy of Metrodome / Big Rich Films
So dedicated were these men to their cause that their secret was not shared with their closest friends, or even their wives.
The focus for the film and novel is a community where the men, all specially recruited as guerrilla fighters, have fled to complete a resistance mission, leaving their wives to cope alone as German troops move into the area.
Ahead of the film's launch on 25 November, Sheers and the film's producers have been working closely with the Abergavenny Museum to help them curate an exhibition chronicling the history of the British resistance movement during World War Two.
A display case from the exhibition at Abergavenny Museum
The subject has particular resonance in Abergavenny, where local men and women were among those joining the ranks of the secret movement.
Costumes and art work from the film, which was shot around the Olchon Valley last autumn and stars Michael Sheen, have been loaned to the museum for display, along with cinematic extracts from the film itself.
The exhibition at the museum includes costumes and art work from the film plus early drafts of Sheers' novel
Sheers has also contributed early drafts of his novel, while the Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team have produced a documentary about the auxiliary units set up throughout the country to fight the would-be invaders.
A sketch by artist on set Dan Llewelyn Hall. Image courtesy of the artist
Dan Llywelyn Hall, the resident artist on the film set, will be exhibiting some of his works, which visitors to the display are able to purchase. And on the gallery's listening post guests can access audio accounts by some of the men who served in the resistance.
Rachael Rogers, curator at the museum, said: "We felt the combination of a fascinating subject, brought to life by a local author and the pending film release made this the ideal time to stage an exhibition.
"We have been privileged to work with the families of those men who were part of the resistance, who have generously lent us original artefacts."
The movement saw suitable men carefully selected in a clandestine manner, which then saw them trained as guerilla soldiers in utmost secrecy.
They were primed and ready to fight the Nazis as they advanced through Britain and tasked with sabotaging their progress at every turn.
Auxiliary units were supported by Special Duties Section, selected from the civilian population and trained to carry and receive important messages across the countryside.
The exhibition at Abergavenny Museum will run until 25th February 2012. The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 11am-1pm and 2-4pm.
And on Monday 21st November, to celebrate the release of the film, the museum is hosting a lunchtime event from 11.30am-1.30pm.
Owen Sheers, the film's director, Amit Gupta, and members of the production team will be on hand to chat to the public who are invited to enjoy wine and canapés, and view the exhibition.
Tickets are £20 and include a voucher to see the film at Baker Street Cinema, Abergavenny when it is on general release.
For more information on the auxiliary units visit www.coleshillhouse.com. For the latest on the film visit www.facebook.com/resistancemovie. And to find out what Owen Sheers is up to visit www.owensheers.co.uk.
Tuesday 15 November 2011, 10:36
Tuesday 15 November 2011, 13:25