Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Defiance" with Daniel Craig

A movie as lavish as "Dr.Zhivago", with the all the sparse reality of "Schindler's List" would seem to be an impossible feat to pull off. And if that story were also true, as in the case of "Schindler's List", then you would have a movie very worth watching. "Defiance" meets all of these expectations, and more.

The true story of the Bielski brothers, who were farmers at the time of Hitler's invasion into Poland in 1939, is one of amazing courage and sacrifice. On the run from the Germans in the woods for over 2 years, the Bielski brothers find themselves up against not only the Nazi's, but also at odds with partisan Russians and Poles, who are anti-semetic, but still need the help the brothers offer.

Zusia, Asael and Tuvia Bielski were Jews. As the Germans bore down on the Jews of Poland, the brothers took to the woods, where they foraged for food while dodging German patrols. But as the German atrocities began to mount, the brothers soon found themselves joined by, and in charge of, a large group of Jewish refugees. Not only did they manage to survive the harsh winters and savage fighting, but they also lead this group through the frozen woods, towards safety, only to find their path blocked by a swamp. At this point the older brother is ready to give up, the situation is almost biblical. The Germans are like the Egyptian Army, poised and ready to strike a fatal blow. Only a miracle, such as a parting of the waters can save them. But with miracles in short supply, the brothers must find some other way to escape the Germans, and certain death. The younger brother provides the inspiration and solution to the problem, leading the whole group across the swamp tied together with rope and belts.

The movie also explores the anti-semetism that was rife amongst the Polish and Russian freedom fighters, who believed all Jews to be cowards. Zusia, along with his youngest brother Tuvia, believes that fighting the enemy would be suicidal. Instead they form a community in the woods, complete with a school, a hospital and a cookhouse. He welcomes any survivor into the camp.

Their brother, Asael, has a different idea, he wants to fight the Nazi's in an effort to prove that Jews are not cowards. In the end, as with most things, all three brothers are proven right, as the Russian and Polish resistance fighters finally accept them as equals in the fight against fascism. This is largely due to Asael's death in the fighting on the Russian front in 1944.

This is a gripping film, you can actually feel the cold and hunger as you watch this group of refugees struggle to survive. All the performers are exceptinal in this dramatic, moving and true story of what man will endure in order to survive.

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