During World War II, four Jewish brothers escape their Nazi-occupied homeland of West Belarus in Poland and join the Soviet partisans to combat the Nazis. The brothers begin the rescue of roughly 1,200 Jews still trapped in the ghettos of Poland. Based on a true story.
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There are plenty of films about WWII, and specifically the Holocaust. There are films like Valkyrie, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, The Reader, and Downfall that all focus on terrible times for the world in the 1940s. Like the ones I have mentioned, this film focuses on three individuals that ended up saving thousands of lives. Defiance is about three brothers whose family is killed, so they go in to the woods that they know so well. At first it was to hide, but soon the woods became much more. The Bielski brothers started to take more and more Jews in to the woods and made it in to a community.
They were all looking for freedom. Everyone wanted the chance to live like human beings. Not only do the brothers try to protect all of the Jews and themselves, but they also had to provide and care for everyone as well. It was a big responsibility to take all these people and reassure them they were going to be okay. The Jewish people trusted them with their lives. But because of the courage of these three brothers, soon everyone played a part in order to survive. They just needed someone to look up to and their answer were the Bielski brothers.
Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell play the three brothers. They each are fantastic and really played off each other. It was good casting on the filmÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s part to get three talented guys to play important roles. Of course, Craig has come to fame due to the Bond films, but he sheds that image quite well in this. You almost forget he ever played such a character. He has done well by picking roles that are different than the James Bond role that everyone knows him from. Of course, these guys had some help from a good director that knows how to tell a story, but also can mix it with some action as well.
Edward Zwick has directed films like The Last Samurai and Blood Diamond. He knows how to create a film that can entertain with all of its action, but also show depth in the characters. Zwick cares about his characters and how they affect the story. He mixes a lot of genres, but he never loses his focus and neither does the film.
At The Movies
Defiance (PG) * * * *
By ROBERT WALDMAN
People should always remember that old saying: Those who fail to note history risk the danger of reliving it. Once the Holocaust ended few would have believed such monumental tragedies would occur again. Time and time again the world has seen unspeakable evil being committed against the defenseless. Trust humanitarian Ed Zwick to make sure we all remember past horrors with Defiance, a monumental tale of struggle and hope from Paramount Vantage now enthralling viewers at the Dunbar Theatre.
World War II occurred not so long ago. News of the annihilation of entire Jewish communities was hard to comprehend to the outside world. Miraculously Zwick has uncovered a true story of three brothers who singlehandedly helped save the lives of thousands. Consider the tale of the Bielski Brothers to be the new milleniumÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s SchindlerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s List thanks to inspiring performances based on pure facts.
Able to do what Glory did for Denzel Washington Zwick directs an un-Bonded Daniel Craig in the lead role of Tuvia Bielski. No tux and fancy sports car here for Mr. Craig. Instead he lives with his two brothers by rather nefarious means. Doing evil deeds in the past comes in handy when the Nazis begin to purge the BielskisÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ homeland of Jews.
When the murders hit too close to home Tuvia and brothers Zus and Asael make haste to the Belarussian Forest, an area that they know like the back of their hands. Tradition still resonates with these local minor thugs who use their street smarts to good advantage as they try to flee the Nazis. What the trio donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t expect, however, is to meet other survivors on the run. Thus a new era is forged for these tough guys as in no short order they become saviours for the trapped survivors. Against the guns of HitlerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s killing machine teamwork, learning new methods of self-preservation, heroism and a little bit of luck from the big one above all come into play in this rousing story.
Solid as a rock is the on screen presence of both Daniel Craig (Casino Royale) and Live Schreiber (The Sum of All Fears) who display a full range of battling brothers involved in what at times seems like their own personal vendetta. Together they look like Pied Pipers leading the hopeless to the promised land Ã¢â‚¬â€œ in this case anywhere away from the Nazi SS storm troopers. Where Defiance gets much of its soul is by going beneath the skins of these fleeing victims whose only crime was being born Jewish. Mob violence and religion also play pivotal points in this movie that should resonate well with all who have felt unjustly treated and wanting to strike back.
Freedom means everything to most people and Defiance shows how one family can forge a community under some extremely grave conditions. Clocking in at 137 minutes Defiance offers just the right balance between getting to know the underlying emotions of those on the run and being hunted while offering some intense battle exchanges.
Solemn cinematography within the forest belt and a final flight to freedom with a bitter weapons exchange reminiscent of the David vs. Goliath battle and exodus of the Israelites under Moses makes Defiance a total triumph that should make us all realize the value of life and the need to fight to survive.
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