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Defiance Film Review (2008 Film)

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Defiance Film Review

Actor Daniel Craig stars in the film Defiance

Actor Daniel Craig stars in the film Defiance

Defiance the movie

DEFIANCE FILM REVIEW

Defiance the movie is a triumphant movie based on a true story of Jewish people who decided to stand up and fight back, refusing to be victimized during the time of the Holocaust. Regarding Defiance the movie, movie director, Edward Zwick has stated that a big contribution to his pride in making the film Defiance is the fact that the stories of such fighters have often gone untold in the media until now.

  • Set in 1941 through approximately 1944, Defiance the movie chronicles the lives of four brothers.
  • The eldest brother in the Defiance film is the character that stars in the film.
  • The character in Defiance film is Tuvia Bielski, played by Daniel Craig.
  • The second eldest brother, Zus played by Liev Schreiber also shines.
  • Tuvia and Zus also have two younger brothers, Asael (Jamie Bell) and Aron (George MacKay) whose characters have more minor roles in Defiance the movie.

In Defiance the movie, the story begins with the murder of the Bielski brothers' parents. The brothers grieve and mourn all the while knowing that they are also in grave danger. They decide to hide in the woods in Belarus. (For the film, Defiance, land in Lithuania was used instead.)

The brothers are actually very familiar with the forest because they grew up very close to there and used to play in the forest as children.

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They used to play in the forest when they were children.

The characters Tuvia and Zus, played by Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber in Defiance the movie

The resourcefulness of the characters in Defiance the movie

Because they are so used to being in the forest, the brothers are able to be very resourceful for surviving in the elements by building shelter for example. Tuvia takes the lead for keeping his brothers safe and out of harm's way.

  • Before long, Tuvia becomes well known and respected by many people who are on a similar plight for safety.
  • There are others who have taken to the woods unsure of what to do next and soon they are looking toward Tuvia for leadership.

Many people depend on Tuvia to lead them.

Actors Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber star in Defiance the movie

A large and sustainable group residing in the forest in Defiance the movie

The numbers of people grow overwhelmingly and indeed someone must take the lead to prevent the chaos of all.

  • Soon Tuvia is sitting atop his horse telling others what to do and by this, the group becomes productive and sustainable.
  • One of the members of the group who considers himself an intellectual poses the idea of community to Tuvia and indeed the group is fast becoming a community.

The 'intellectuals' seem to have difficulty using hammers and building shelters but soon enough they get the hang of it.

Everyone is asked what their profession was before they found themselves in these circumstances, in order to see how they can be useful to the group as a whole.

A nurse is told that she is 'most welcome' as a part of the group while an accountant is laughed upon in a cynical way.

If they had not run into the forest,

Many of the people comment that if they had not run into the forest to become a part of this community, if they had remained in the ghetto, they would have been dead by now.

In search of food

Initially, the women are told that they will get protection from the men but soon this changes and the women are expected to train for fighting and fight alongside the men.

They also take turns with 'food missions', where they go out beyond the forest in search of food even if it means having to steal from farmers. The decided code of conduct is to take only from those who have enough to spare.

  • The community adjusts to the conditions but not without incident.
  • There are some times of desperation when food is scarce especially in the winter months.

Adversity

The audience might find the film Defiance hard to stomach as it is very violent but such were the times. The question is often posed, do you too have to become a tyrant in order to overcome those who victimize you? Do you have to become just as horrible as they are?

Because they have been so traumatized, their survival strategies do some times cross the boundary into revenge for the actions of their tormentors. There are indeed some unnecessary acts of violence on the part of the Beilski partisans.

  • The members of the group are constantly hunted and have to relocate and in turn re-build a few times.
  • They overcome great adversity to keep going and survive.
  • In one scene where they are being chased and need to relocate deeper into the forest, they are surprised to find that they need to cross a large body of water, everyone including the old and sick.
  • They are about to give up but again pull their thoughts together and become resourceful.
  • The third eldest (second youngest) brother, Asael is especially instrumental in the plan.

By this time, Zus the second brother has disbanded from the group because he resents Tuvia as its leader. Even in these dire circumstances, there is sibling rivalry.

Zus finds allies with the Russian army and joins them. He does not stay long when he senses corruption and antisemitism and he eventually reunites with Tuvia and the group.


Defiance

1. I highly recommend this film, Defiance and if you should decide to rent Defiance the movie, be sure to take a look at the bonus special features on the Defiance DVD. There, you will see portraits of the actual survivors on whom the Defiance film is based and you will see interviews with descendents of the Bielski family.

2. You will really realize the magnitude and be even further touched by what is depicted in the film, Defiance. As word spread and the group grew larger by many people escaping to the forest and as they stayed the course and overcame the challenges and the danger, they were able to survive in the forest until the war's end!

3. It was over 1,000 people in all and now, generations later, their children and grandchildren number over 10,000. As many of the family pose for a large group portrait in the special features section of the Defiance DVD, you hear the words, "We were not supposed to be here." It is a very gripping sentiment as you think about the heroism of their ancestors.

We were not supposed to be here.

— The descendents of the survivors

Defiance is an excellent film

The background violinist music is reminiscent of the soundtracks for Holocaust related movies such as Schindler's List but this is a very different film. Only recently with films like Defiance and Valkyrie are we seeing the stories of those who fought back against the plan of genocide or attempted preemptive attacks on Hitler and/or the Nazi tormentors.

I think that Defiance is an excellent film. I rate it 4/5 stars ****, especially for its insight and historical value.

Rated R for language and violence

Defiance the movie

An Interview with Daniel Craig regarding Defiance the movie

A Few Quotes

A few of the quotes said in the Defiance movie trailer below.:

  • "If you save a life, you must take responsibility for it."
  • "We may be hunted like animals but we will not become animals."
  • "Every day of freedom is an act of faith."

Defiance Movie Trailer

Defiance

© 2009 Nyesha Pagnou MPH

Comments

Nyesha Pagnou MPH (author) from USA on January 11, 2012:

Happyboomernurse, you're welcome.

Thanks very much for your nice comment.

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on December 07, 2010:

Great review. Sounds like a powerful movie. Thanks for sharing this hub.

Nyesha Pagnou MPH (author) from USA on December 07, 2010:

Hi justmesuzanne. Thanks for commenting. It really is a film of empowerment.

justmesuzanne from Texas on December 07, 2010:

One of my favorite movies! :)

Nyesha Pagnou MPH (author) from USA on April 22, 2010:

Hi kiran8, thanks very much for the comment!

kiran8 from Mangalore, India on August 05, 2009:

Well reviewed , will look out for this film...thanks a lot :)

Nyesha Pagnou MPH (author) from USA on July 30, 2009:

Thanks so much mamacoots!

mamacoots from Louisiana on July 28, 2009:

I recently watched this movie and have to agree it was very well done and defintely a story worthy of being told. Great review! :-)

Nyesha Pagnou MPH (author) from USA on July 28, 2009:

Nancy, thank you and I'm glad you're adding it to your list. It is a great film.

R Burow, thanks for posting your comment.

R Burow from Florida, United States on July 28, 2009:

Sounds interesting. Thanks.

Nancy's Niche on July 28, 2009:

Very good write up on this film. Its one more "to see" I must add to my list...

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