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Defiance (2008)

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

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Over Wrought

  • Jul 8, 2009
Rating:
-1
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 point I asked myself, how many more angles could the war be approached on? How many more stories are there to tell? How many different ways could a film take the war? They all have a common theme, war is hell, people do horrible things to other people. But how many times can this story be made?

My complaint about this particular film, Edward Zwick, the director, after paying his dues with television programs; has recently taken up a number of *cause* movies (Blood Diamond (Widescreen Edition), The Last Samurai (Two-Disc Special Edition), I am Sam (New Line Platinum Series), and Traffic). In just about every case he has managed to whitewash those causes (Blood Diamond was an exception) and make them look glossy and all Hollywood. Zwick brings none of the grittiness, the real hell of the situation, to his films. Defiance is a prime example of things being too shiny and well planned out. In the end, we don't care much for the lead characters.

I found myself wondering about the motivation for the lead characters. Tuvia is driven to kill early in the film. But yet it feels like he's a robot going to do some deed he was programmed to do. There just wasn't enough back story or reasons why characters did what they chose to do. From that point forward, Tuvia was a lean mean killing machine. There was also way too much black and white between those that were willing to fight and the intellectuals. The final irony when the lead intellectual decides to run out in the open with a live hand grenade.

The film is 2 hours and 17 minutes long. With the lack of real character motivation, there is really about 30 minutes of movie in here. The story could have easily been told in much less time, and left nothing out. A typical sequence, Tuvia comes back to camp. We see him stare off in the distance forever. He then all of a sudden says, we have to move, right now. Get all the children, I want them accounted for, we need to move now. So there's great detail in how the camp gets organized to move. Then German planes fly over and bomb the camp. The group finally moves out. They then reach a clearing. We then spend another eternity trying to decide to cross a vast wasteland. They decide to cross with belts and ropes. There's a huge moment of collecting the belts and ropes and how everyone walks. The group triumphantly reaches the woods and another hill. But where are the ropes and belts? All gone, they were a critical plot element earlier, but they're gone now. And where did they march to, a safer place, a place they could stay? No the army is on the other side of the hill. So now there's another battle. What I just described took about 45 minutes in the film. There was painful detail on things that didn't matter. Loose ends that were never mentioned again. Absolutely no motivation for why they did what they did, except that Tuvia said, go do it. 30 minutes of that 45 was wasted on irrelevant details.

So I didn't care much for this film. Its way too long. I didn't really care for the two older brothers. The story didn't really make a lot of sense. And the director just over worked everything about this film. What was awesome about this film - the true story that is revealed at the end of the film. That is worth the price of admission.

I would imagine that the book is infinitely better than this film. That's not because books are almost always better than the film; its because Edward Zwick managed to ruin a perfectly spectacular story. There are a thousand other approaches to this story that would have made this a hugely compelling film. Sorry, this one just left me cold.

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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 . June 06, 2009
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 …
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 …
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Dan lebryk ()
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Wiki

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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