Friday, 4 September 2009

Defiance movie review

{With this film's release onto DVD I have re-posted my original review from April - GGBlog}
Defiance is a good story that deserves to be told. It tells of a group of Belarussian Jews who survived in the forest for three years, jammed between Nazis who would kill them and the retreating Russians. The forest is a cold and hard place to survive, especially in the dark of winter. The survivors hold on with a grim desperation knowing that the alternative is worse – the fate of their parents, children, brothers and sisters. The fact that 1200 of their number walked out of the forest, alive, at the end of the war is, frankly, incredible.
Daniel Craig plays Tuvia Bielski, the eldest brother and leader of the refugees. They build a village in the forest where each member, men and women, old and young, must contribute either by working, by fighting or collecting food. The women are married off as ‘forest wives’ and comforters and camp rules must be followed; one troublemaker is summarily shot.
Tuvia’s younger brothers, Zus (Liev Shreiber) and Asael (Jamie Bell) help lead the camp until Zus has a falling out with his brother over how the camp should be run. He joins the Russian partisans, fighting the Germans, and comes to the rescue at just the right time in the end.
Holocaust films deserve a certain respect because of their significant storylines. This film avoids the empty, helpless feeling of a lot of similarly themed films however because the protagonists survive their tormentors. As Tuvia says early on, “our revenge is to live.”
Craig plays his role with a rugged sense of purpose (and those still blue eyes made him a shoe-in for Bond) although his dour style lacks charm.
Writer/director Edward Zwick (Blood Diamond) has brought to life a story of an ordinary man who doesn’t give up and proves history wrong. For the many survivors, this film is more than just an entertainment. It is a part of their history. Zwick is quoted as saying that making this film “is a real privilege.”
While the drama kept me engaged for the whole time it was a hard film to love. I found the blue, grey and brown palette of this film wearing and ultimately I didn’t sympathise with the characters enough. 3 out of 5.

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