starring Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, Jamie Bell, Alexa Davalos, Allan Corduner and Iben Jjejle
written by Clayton Frohman and Edward Zwick
directed by Edward Zwick
Based on the novel, Defiance: the Bielski Partisans by Nechama Tec, Defianceis the true story of Jews hiding from the Nazis in the Lipiczanska Forest of Belarus from 1941-to-1945. At first I thought it was going to be another story of the January-May 1943 Jewish Ghetto Uprising inWarsaw.
The film opened with black-and-white footage of the SS and the Wermarcht rounding up and executing Jews the old fashioned, expensive and slow way, with bullets to the head in ditches. It looked like another movie about the Sorbibor atrocity. Then the film resolved to color and the true story began, set in Belarus in the early days of the Nazi invasion. The round-up of local Jews was abetted by the local police. The Nazi disposition towards Jews was aided by its appeal to the already widespread and culturally-entrenched anti-Semitism resident in Eastern Europe. The tale of the extent of the locals’ cooperation and collaboration with the occupiers is a shameful one to this day.
The Bielskis were a large Jewish family. All but a couple brothers were murdered. The survivors hid out in a local forest and other survivors slowly began migrating to the same location. They discovered each other and slowly formed a community and a plan of retribution. Collectively they became part of the network of loosely-Russian-controlled partisan groups.
I usually really dislike Liev Schreiber. I have watched several of his supporting actor character roles over the years and always disliked him - his nerdy voice, his scrunched-up face. But this time he landed a great role and pulled it off nicely. It is easily the best performance by Schrieber that I have ever seen. Daniel Craig is less convincing as a Belarusian Jew, but his performance is strong.