Demotivational Poster of the Day

Demotivational Poster of the Day

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Defiance (2008)

In 1941, in Belorussia, the Jewish Bielski brothers succeed in escaping from the massacre of the German in their village where their parents were killed. They hide in the woods and sooner other runaway Jews join them. Tuvia Bielski, the eldest brother, assumes the leadership of the survivors and plans a camp with tasks for everyone in the community; however, his brother Zus Bielski wants to fight against the Germans and does not agree with Tuvia's directions. Zus decides to join the Russian resistance that believes that Jews do not fight. While Tuvia welcomes any survivor in his camp with his two younger brothers and fight for food and ammunition, Zus finds anti-Semitism among the Russian partisans.

Part Schindler, part Robin Hood, and part Moses, Tuvia Bielski (D Craig) slipped into the vast Belarusian wood with his two brothers in 1941 to avoid being captured and executed by the Nazis. Over the course of the next three years, the brothers Bielski collected, protected, cared for, and ultimately saved 1200 of their fellow Jews from the gas chambers. It's one of the most uplifting stories of the century, but few have heard of them until now, and for that reason alone, Defiance is worth seeing. It does an excellent job of recreating the harrowing history of these survivors, creating a type of man-vs-nature narrative that is most unusual for a Holocaust story, but in doing so, it gives us a film that lacks a much needed dose of dramatic tension. Perhaps the single greatest problem in Defiance is Zwick's 2-hour (!?) focus on the story's protagonists while denying us a well-developed human antagonist. Instead, we get lots of trees, snow, starving refugees, and the occasional gunfight, but little else. Somewhere out there was a very angry Nazi captain desperate to catch these runaway Jews and the men who were protecting them. No doubt he was a despicable character, but we don't get to meet him... much less hate him. In his place stands the Belarusian winter, which may have been harsh, but it isn't particularly scary. Craig and Schreiber are both excellent, but they needed more to work with. See it for its strong acting and for the much needed history lesson, but be prepared for the vague letdown that follows.


4/5 Stars

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