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Defiance (2008)

Action & Adventure, Drama, and Military & War movie directed by Edward Zwick

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'Our revenge is to live.'

  • Jun 6, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+3
This motto serves to sum the feelings of the Bielski brothers as they escape the horrors of the Nazi extermination of Jews in 1941. Adapted from Dr. Nechama Tec's book DEFIANCE: THE BIELSKI PARTISANS by director Edward Zwick and Clayton Frohman this film is as much about family devotion as it is about extended family. It is a touching story of survival under the most impossible conditions and a story of heroism that is far too unknown among even scholars of the WW II period.

Set in 1941 DEFIANCE introduces four brothers of the Bielski family (the parents have been victims of the Nazi Final Solution in Belorussia) - the compassionate brother Tuvia (Daniel Craig), angry and reactive brother Zus (Liev Schreiber), and the younger brothers Asael (Jamie Bell) and Aron (George McKay). In response to the war the brothers find refuge in the forest where gradually they encounter other Jews hiding from the Nazis and through thoughtful and clever means form an ever enlarging community where their extended family is fed and cared for and prepared with weapons stolen from the Nazis to defend their existence and protect them from being placed in the death camps. The film is a series of encounters with the enemy but it is also a very touching collection of stories of survival in the wilderness by such concepts as allowing men to have 'forest wives', pitting the religious teachings of a professor Haretz (Allan Corduner) and the pure intellectualism of writer Isaac Malbin (Mark Feurstein), and other interludes of interpersonal coping with tragedy.

The cast is a fine one with Liev Schreiber the most convincing, but with a fine new role type for Daniel Craig. There is an odd mixture of accents from each of the actors - each trying to imitate the Russian sound. But in the end the viewer is left with a sense of respect and even awe at the courage and discipline of outcasts surviving a hideous nightmare, simply by staying alive. Grady Harp, June 09

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More Defiance (2008) reviews
review by . October 19, 2010
This is a great movie. It is a story that should be told and should be known by everyone. The acting was also good. However, I was left somewhat unsatisfied. I thought after seeing it that more should have been told about how the brothers fought against the Nazis, rather than spending so much time on the rift between them. I was somewhat bothered by the jump in the story, as if the narrator was saying, "so it continued for more than a year and then..." A lot must have happened during the year. What …
review by . July 08, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
The subject matter is incredible, brothers that saved over 1200 people during World War II. What an amazing fantastic strong story. The most powerful moment of this film, the still images of the brothers just before the credits roll. Beside those pictures appear what happened to each afterwards and about how they saved 1200 people, who went on to have hundreds of thousands of children. Incredible.    This is just not a good movie in comparison to this fabulous history. At one …
review by . June 05, 2009
"Defiance"    Tuvia and Zus    Amos Lassen    The three Bielski brothers were on the run and hiding in the forests of the then German occupied Poland and Byelorussia during World War II. They are forced to hunt for food and weapons so that they can survive. Their lives are racked with fear of discovery and they have to deal with the Soviets who are their neighbors and they have to know who they can trust as well as be responsible for taking …
review by . December 31, 2008
True to its advertising claims, "Defiance" tells a story I've never heard before: That of the Bielski Partisans, a Jewish rebellion from Poland that rallied against Nazi occupiers at the height of World War II. Originally founded by the remaining sons of the Bielski family, it soon ballooned into an organization consisting of thousands of people, all freed from local Jewish ghettos. They struggled to survive in the Belarussian forests, facing starvation, disease, and exposure to the elements. Their …
About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Ranked #97
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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Three ferociously committed actors fill the roles of the Bielski brothers, Jewish partisans who escaped into the forests of Eastern Europe during the Second World War. Daniel Craig (taking a break from 007 duty) is Tuvia, the leader of a group of refugees who eventually number over a thousand; Liev Schreiber is Zus, the antagonistic warrior; and Jamie Bell is Asael, a peacemaker no less devoted to the survival of the community. The three performers give life to director Edward Zwick's account of this little-known chapter of Jewish resistance to the Holocaust, which otherwise plays more like a history lesson than a full-blooded movie. The film's best achievement is its strong location work, in Lithuania--as the community makes its home in the forest, the landscape becomes an important player in the drama at hand, and the changing of the seasons is charted with bone-chilling detail. Schreiber manages to get a little wry humor into this otherwise sober enterprise, and Daniel Craig creates an unusual character: a sort of anti-Bond, a hero whose body is all too fallible and whose decision-making is sometimes hesitant or morally compromised. It's a rare hero in a World War II movie that tends to withdraw from scenes rather than stride into them, but that's what Craig does. More than likely, the movie's main achievement will be sending the curious to read the histories of the Bielski brothers and why they matter in the chronicles of the Holocaust.--Robert Horton

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Details

Director: Edward Zwick
Genre: War, Action, Drama, Adventure
Screen Writer: Edward Zwick, Clay Frohman
DVD Release Date: June 2, 2009
Runtime: 137 minutes
Studio: Paramount
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