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James Bond and Oscar winning director Ed Zwick take on the Nazis.
Saw a preview screening of DEFIANCE last week in Woodland Hills. Daniel Craig stars as Tuvia Bielski in the true WWII story of three Jewish brothers who hid in the Belorussian forests and built a community of partisan fighters, saving over 1200 Jews by war's end.
Liev Schreiber (Zus Bielski) and Jamie Bell (Asael Bielski) star alongside Craig as his two younger brothers. Both Craig and Schreiber give powerhouse performances as the older brothers competing for leadership, and Jamie Bell, who most recently starred in the abysmal Jumper, gives a surprisingly great performance as well.
Zwick has created one of the most beautiful and thought provoking films of his career and definitely one of the most Oscar worthy movies to hit cinemas in years. War and destruction has never been so captivating and moving. There have been dozens of war movies in recent years but none have left me caring so much or feeling so attached to the characters. My eyeballs wouldn't break from the screen for the full 120 mins, and by the film's end, I wasn't ready to stop watching. I can't wait for the release (which appears to be some time this winter) in order to see it again.
It's a superb film with a nice balance of heavy hitting action and intense drama, but if that's not enough to make you want to see it, just the fact that these on screen heroes existed in real life definitely make it worth the watch.
This is a WWII movie that doesn't hide or glamorize war but shows the intense reality of what happens when people band together against overwhelming evil and survive.
A solid 8.5/10
I enjoyed "Defiance" immensely -- there was humor and heartache, with a
liberal dose of action. Not a brainless action movie, enough of a story
to make it memorable, and fast-paced enough to keep me from becoming
On the other hand, although the movie captures the spirit of the story, it is far from a documentary, and I'd have preferred a more historically accurate film. I'm biased, though -- I read the Peter Duffy book "Bielski Brothers" soon after it was released ("Defiance" is based on a different book), and I found the real story even more compelling than the Hollywood version.
Nonetheless, I live in the real world where directors have to shoot on a budget, and this was a good, diverting peek into a story that was long overdue to be told.
"Defiance" is a very entertaining, exciting, suspenseful, and
inspirational film about a tough topic: the Holocaust. Its many action
sequences are well-paced and well-motivated. You know exactly why Tuvia
Bielski (Daniel Craig) breaks into a home and points a gun at a man in
front of his family. Daniel Craig and Live Schreiber are terrific as
Tuvia and Zus Bielski, who lead a band of Jewish forest partisans
during World War Two, thus saying over a thousand lives.
The movie is not perfect. Characters speak English with Slavic accents. In other scenes, they speak Russian or Belarusian. Craig and Schreiber manage very good Slavic accents, both when speaking English and when speaking the Slavic languages, but Craig occasionally lapses into his English accent when speaking English. Female characters are not particularly well drawn, or given much to do. While this film is very good, it doesn't have the production values to be a timeless classic like "Schindler's List." The movie is controversial. Most of the controversies are shallow relative to the most important facts at hand. Many of those attacking this movie have axes to grind, including current events in the Middle East or feuds between Poles and Jews. The most important fact is this: the Nazis committed a genocide of six million Jews. In the midst of this Satanic nightmare, the Bielskis managed to save over a thousand Jews. That's the main, and absolutely true, point here, and it should not be lost in bickering over details.
Compared to other treatments of the Holocaust, this film is fair. It doesn't show Slavic peasants as uniformly Jew-hating collaborators. Nazis, not Slavic peasants, were the authors and perpetrators of the Holocaust. Some occupied peoples collaborated, often out of fear and for financial gain or as payback for old grudges. Some occupied peoples did everything they could to help Jews, as does a Belarusian peasant in this film.
The Bielskis were not immaculate. They did summarily execute captured Germans, as shown here. They did raid peasants for provisions, as shown here. They did work with the Soviets, but so did Uncle Sam. Remember that photo of FDR and Churchill smiling with Stalin at Yalta. The Polish IPN institute is investigating charges that members of the Bielski partisans, but not the Bielskis themselves, participated in the 1943 Soviet massacre of 128 people in Naliboki. Aron, the youngest Bielski brother, was, in 2007, accused of defrauding an elderly Polish woman. These failures of the Bielski brothers to be perfect in no way lessen their achievement, any more than any failure to be perfect lessen any hero's achievement. Again, in the face of genocide, the Bielski brothers managed to save over a thousand people. Were they perfect? No. Were they admirable, heroic, and worth learning about? Absolutely yes.
The movie was good. Not Zwick's best effort though and as for the
acting it was Liev Schreiber that delivered the most. Every time I see
Craig I see James Bond and that other guy, Jamie Bell, was barely even
on screen. I'm guessing most of his scenes were cut out of the film to
pave the way for more Craig screen time. The action set pieces were
mostly impressive but the problem is, its over before you know it. But
I can honestly say, it was impressive nonetheless. Its not brainless by
any means, the movie has a profound and compelling story. One can only
wonder how these filmmakers come up with more WWII movie ideas every
From a visual point of view, the movie looks absolutely beautiful. From the authentic weaponry and uniforms to the rich and colorful Lithuanian locations, Defiance may fall flat during some points throughout the film; as with every other black and white war movies that's been released, the Germans are depicted as war machines of death without remorse, if you can overlook these flaws I think it is an enjoyable film and in its entirety, Defiance is an overwhelming movie that doesn't glamorize the war but shows the intense reality behind it all. A must see for all war movie fans out there.
I was almost giving up seeing this film because of certain reviews which were not that good. To my amazement , the film turned up to be not good, but excellent. It shows people fighting for their lives, starving, getting to the point where many people loose faith and come close to being like animals. That is when you need a good leader which the Bielski brothers certainly were. And what good actors, Live Schreiber as Zus , what a performance, also Daniel Craig faultless as Tuvia. When you see all that killing, done by men (and women) trying to survive and also in some cases, revenge, you wonder how peaceful, good persons can change and become violent, when circumstances demand. And pray that those times will never happen to us. Spare us from being the Chosen People, says the Rabbi, overcome by anguish in a touching scene. But it is through suffering and faith that these people defy their destiny. My mother and father left Bielorus before the war. But most of their close ones did not.
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 (Daniel Craig), 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 (Liev Schreiber) 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.
"Defiance" is an excellent movie based on a true story that proves that nothing is impossible to survive. Of course, the plot is romanticized, but the merit of these Bielski brothers is undeniable. The direction of Edward Zwick (from "Blood Diamond") is outstanding, with the journey of a group of survivors that uses human characters in drama, romance and action in realistic scenes (the battle sequences are amazing). The landscapes are extremely beautiful, especially in the winter with the frozen forest. The cast is magnificent, and is difficult to highlight an individual performance. The beauty of the unknown Alexa Davalos is impressive. My vote is nine.
Title (Brazil): "Um Ato de Liberdade" ("An Act of Liberty")
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
this film surely merits the two stars.
if you're brave enough to make a movie, you deserve one star. the second is for the pictures. and that's it.
the movie sucked, in general and in detail. and we have noted down quite some of them.
so, if you're not pulled off by the above and want to continue reading go ahead.
first of all, the Bielski family were Polish, not Belorussian, Jews. and Polish Jews spoke Polish, not Russian. Bielski himself spoke poor Russian, he was quite fluent in Polish and Yiddish. so.. the question is... why do they make the characters in the movie talk Russian and write Polish? another thing is, if you make a movie and want to put something in a foreign language in it, make sure it's correct. just a little movie-makers hint. what was written in Polish on a label attached to the hanged farmer said "amant żydów", which translates roughly into, putting it nicely, "someone who enjoys Jews in a sexual way". the English translation said "Jew lover". well.. I'm quite sure they did not mean THAT kind of love here...
the Bielski group never fought Germans. they were never a guerrilla. they lived in the forest alright, and fought mostly Russians. and Polish guerrillas. basically, they would fight anyone.
so... Tewje Bielski is not a Robin Hood. nor would he ever give speeches like that about "freedom", "being chased like animals but not being animals" and all other sort of American rhetoric.
btw, didn't he look just like Braveheart, on his white horse, talking to those tormented Jews? now... we are reaching a very complicated issue with the name Naliboki.
in the movie Naliboki was the name of Bielski's camp. quite an unfortunate name as in reality it was not quite so.
Naliboki was/is the name of a small Polish town that was allegedly massacred and burnt by Bielski's "troops". the truth is though, that the massacre was authored by a Soviet fighting group with the help of some local guerrillas, none of them being even related to Bielski. the blame was put on Bielski by the Soviets years later when investigation was drawn to explain war crimes in that region (many people today still believe the Bielski people are responsible for the massacre.) to include this in the movie might have made a really interesting plot line, instead we have a huge confusion.
the Bielski forming his group and the Naliboki massacre took place during a war, quite uncomfortable for Poland, Soviets, Jews and everyone else Polish-Soviet. this conflict broke out round 1943 in the nowogródek area (a local little war inside the World War II, with no clear division between the "good guys" and the "bad guys".. that's a bit too complicated for Hollywood..).
OK, but referring to the movie, apart from the fact the shots were good, it was historically inaccurate, interpreted in a wooden and iconic way... can't say much.
waste of celluloid.
I'd rather some movie makers didn't wipe their mouth with a "true story" label. if anything, it might have been "inspired by" with the source of inspiration left remotely behind.
(pity you cannot paste links... I've got some really nice ones about the true story.)
Read more at http://FrameRate.blog.com
When most people learn about World War II during their American History classes, they hear all about the major stories and the major players: D-Day, Eisenhower, the Holocaust, Hitler, Axis vs. Allies, Battle of the Bulge, but there are literally thousands of lesser-known stories from that era that many have not yet heard. It was one such obscure story that is the basis for the film Defiance, starring Daniel Craig.
The film begins with a familiar theme -- Nazi soldiers rounding up Jews in Western Europe. The grainy, black-and-white style tells us that this is a true story. However, as events unfold, we realize that this isn't the Holocaust story that we're accustomed to seeing in films like Schindler's List. In fact, it's a story about hundreds of Jews who fight for survival as free men and women in the dense and expansive forests of Nazi-occupied Poland.
Daniel Craig gives perhaps one of his best performances as Tuvia Bielski, the eldest of four Jewish brothers and the eventual leader of the Bielski partisans. Although the Bielski's and fellow Jews are forced to watch as their people are rounded up and killed by the Nazis, Tuvia wants to avoid becoming a group of vigilantes. The conflict arises from younger brother Zus (Liev Schreiber) who desperately wants to avenge the deaths of those he loved. Tuvia is conflicted by the knowledge that in extreme circumstances one must often take extreme measures in order to survive and protect others.
Throughout the film tension is woven by utilizing a number of different methods, all of which make the movie much more compelling. First, as mentioned, is the conflict between fighting and surviving. Second, is the suspense created by the knowledge that the Nazis are closing in around them. Third is the conflict between the Bielskis and the local police who are loyal to the Nazis. Fourth is the inner struggles the Bielskis face when some of their own decide to cause disagreements and divisions. For those unfamiliar with the story, the fate of the Bielskis is constantly in doubt.
The cinematography of the film is gray and muted, reflective of the somber tone of the subject matter. The musical score is reminiscent of John William's score in Schindler's List -- soft and sad with the cello and violin taking the melody. In some ways it feels that Defiance takes its visual cues from Schindler's List as well; there's something about the look of the movie that seems familiar. The battle scenes are similar in style to Saving Private Ryan, complete with the dazed, ringing-in-the-ears experience following a grenade that goes off too close to Tuvia. I would have appreciated a more unique perspective to the aesthetics of the film to coincide with the uniqueness of the story.
In all, Defiance is an important story that needs to be heard. Daniel Craig leads a great cast of characters in an emotional journey of community, camaraderie, and hope.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Most WWII drama would have the Jews on the victim side, DEFIANCE is one
that has The Jews level the playing field. It's a deep, emotional, and
riveting tale a true story that deserves to be told. Director Edward
Zwick (Glory, The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond) once again returns to
what he knows best by dealing with a group of underdogs, outnumbered
but putting up a fight. DEFIANCE also proves that the blond James Bond,
Daniel Craig, indeed has so much more to offer as an actor. This is the
story of The Fighting Jews.
The script is well-written, in my humble opinion. The way the story begins, what motivates the characters and the conflicts along the way. When brothers try to decide what happens next, there's bound to be clash, disagreements and temporary separation. I don't mean this to be bad but the story is about Jews who are walking into the wilderness, trying to stay alive. It sounds a lot like Exodus, and just like that book in the bible itself, DEFIANCE shows how tough it is to stick together. There's a group trying to discourage a number of people, some are complaining, some think it's best to go back to the ghetto, some start questioning the leader, and some decide to take power into his own hand and try to divide and conquer. Edward Zwick's direction makes sure the audience can see that the struggle they face is not just about running away from the Germans, but also the threats from within caused by frustration, fear and lack of good judgment. And just like his previous movies, it ain't a Zwick movie if you don't have a final ultimate battle at the end scene, between two opposing sides, in the middle of a vast field. Another amazing work on the original score by James Newton Howard that gives us an intense, pulse-pounding feeling during the battle and the sad, dramatic mood during their travel. The cinematography by Eduardo Serra beautifully captures the surrounding nature and displays how it takes its toll on the characters.
The story is disturbingly profound and compelling. There's one lead theme that resounds throughout the entire movie "We may be hunted like animals, but we will not become animals". As the leader, Daniel Craig's character, Tuvia, keeps getting confronted by this. He tries to be an idealist, and his brother, Liev's Schreiber's character, Zus, thinks that kind of mindset would only invite threat and danger. But as the story progresses, Tuvia gradually realizes that they're in the middle of war and the lines between justice and humanity have become uncertain in these desperate times. A German officer is caught by the group and he just stands there as they beat the German to death. At one point he's even forced to kill one of his own. What separates us from animals? The ability to have remorse after we commit vengeance and do our violent bidding? Zus believes that Jews, Russians, whichever, are all the same when fighting a common enemy but he comes to terms with the fact that he will never escape the fact that he is a Jew and it's the only values he has left to hold on to, its what kept him from becoming less than a human being.
Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell both give excellent performances and are just right for the role but we can agree that this move belongs to Daniel Craig. He seems to like playing a Jew who kicks ass. As I watch DEFIANCE, I'm reminded by his line from Munich, "Don't F*ck With The Jews" Years from now, he won't be remembered just as another James Bond, but also a talented actor who likes to take on challenging roles and complete them with the utmost respect. Craig in DEFIANCE shows a wide range of ability, you can see through his eyes the burdens of leadership, the not knowing what exactly to do but he's got all these people looking up to him. I wouldn't have thought Craig to be this versatile when I watched him in the movie Lara Croft: The Tomb Raider, years ago.
I was able to see this movie before it officially got out, and i was very impressed with this movie. I was dying to see Defiance because i'm a huge Jamie Bell fan, and the story seemed really interesting, but i was kind of worried cause Daniel Craig is not exactly one of my favorite actors, but he really impressed me. I think this is his best movie yet. And it's not just the acting, but i think the way they told this story is very efficient, and the sets were incredible. I think they truly stuck to the story of what really happened back then, and believe me, you will not be disappointed with this movie. Jamie Bell was wonderful as Asael (as usual), Liev Schreiber was great, and Daniel Craig was just as great. In my opinion, this movie is a must-see.
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