A war film, shot beautifully with a stellar cast, led by Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber, Defiance 2008 movie narrates the true story of the Bielski brothers, who led a group of Jews into the forest and saved them from extermination by the German forces.
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Defiance Movie: The Plot
In 1941, when German forces were spreading into Eastern Europe and killing Jews systematically, four Bielski brothers fled to the forest after their parents got killed by the local police forces. In the forest, they encounter more Jews who have escaped to seek shelter from the Germans. Tuvia (Daniel Craig), the oldest of the brothers, takes them under his wing and grants them protection. Despite many challenges which include plague, sickness, starvation, disease, and surprise attacks by the Luftwaffe, hundreds of Jews survived in the forest for about two years, moving from one place to another under his leadership till they were finally free to live in this world.
This movie is very different from other World War – II movies I have seen, it is more like a chase game between the Jews and the Germans.
The camp is always alert looking out for German troops, both on land and in air. Though the forest itself is thick and dense, the German forces patrolled around the circumference of the forest to monitor the team which came to collect food from the nearby villages. The Luftwaffe is alert patrolling the sky to spot a glimpse of Jews amidst thick canopies.
Adding to the woes, there is mutiny within the camp and the disagreement between the brothers. Tuvia’s oldest brother Zus decides to part ways with him and join hands with the Soviet Partisans, who fought a Guerilla war against the German forces. Despite all these challenges, Tuvia is successful in leading the pack into hiding for more than two years till the world becomes a safer place for them to live.
This pack later became popular as the Bielski Partisans, whose descendants prosper to this day. In the later years of their stay in the forest, the camp is known to have built a school, a hospital, and a nursery for its inhabitants.
Technical Aspects of Defiance Movie
Daniel Craig is the heart and soul of the film. He has done a brilliant job portraying a tough yet a very vulnerable character, who is kind and compassionate to his crew.
The cinematography is brilliant and the screenplay is tight. All the shots are beautifully taken.
Some of the scenes, like the one where a woman tries to protect her new-born who is fathered by a German soldier who raped her, and stands up against her own clan or a bunch of Jews brutally killing a German soldier whom they capture, melt your heart. The line between right and wrong grows thinner, and it is difficult to take sides under those circumstances.
My Final Thoughts On This Film
The poignant plight of the Jews during the second world war is well known to all of us. There are many who were exterminated, killed brutally and gassed in the extermination camps. There are few, who hid in attics or cellars of houses and escaped from one place to another seeking shelter in the dark hours of the night. They face the harsh cold and live on stale food, keeping their faith in God intact and determined to defy the wrath unleashed on them by this brutal world.
Few of them were lucky to survive the brunt of war and see the light at the end. This is the story of few such Jews who made it through to live a long peaceful life in this world.
A beautiful film, don’t miss it!
The World of Movies Rating – 09/10
Movie Title: Defiance
Based on: Defiance: The Bielski Partisans by Nechama Tec
Directed by: Edward Zwick
Written by: Clayton Frohman, Edward Zwick
Screenplay by: Kris Pearn, Mark Stanleigh
Main Cast: Daniel Craig as Tuvia Bielski, Liev Schreiber as Zus Bielski, Jamie Bell as Asael Bielski, George MacKay as Aron Bielski, Alexa Davalos as Lilka Ticktin, Allan Corduner as Shimon Haretz, Mark Feuerstein as Isaac Malbin, Tomas Arana as Ben Zion Gulkowitz, Jacek Koman as Konstanty “Kościk” Kozłowski, Mia Wasikowska as Chaya Dzięcielski
Year of Release: 2008
Genre: Action, Drama, History
Country of Origin: USA
Languages: English, German, Russian
Running time: 137 minutes
Production Company: Paramount Vantage
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Image Source: Screenshots taken from the movie.
Reviewed by: Anantha Alagappan