Thursday, January 15, 2009


I saw a preview of the movie Defiance on Friday. This movie opens tomorrow. It is based on real events, although the movie itself has been criticized for not being historically accurate. That problem aside, and frankly most "true" stories feature some level of artistic license in the telling, it was a compelling movie and I would recommend it.

Danial Craig, the current James Bond is the lead, playing the eldest of 4 brothers who escape into the forest after the Nazis kill their parents. His character, Tuvia, wants to protect those who are in danger, while his brother Zus, played by Liv Schreiber, is focused on killing the Nazis. Ultimately, the brothers, and those who joined them, survived in the forest through much of the war. About 1200 survivors came out of the forest when the Red Army finally liberated that part of Europe.

The movie is more than a survival tale. There is the relationship dynamic between Tuvia, who believes that living is the best revenge against the Nazis, and Zus, who believes the only good Nazi (or collaborator) is a dead one. The struggle by Tuvia to keep the people focused on the community they are building is challenged when a German soldier is captured. His focus on life is overturned by the group's pent up rage against those who have forced them out of their homes and into life in the forest. Throughout, you see the compromises that are made as men take on "forest wives", without benefit of the usual ceremonies that mark the beginning of such partnerships, and Tuvia is forced to accept that life matters so much that babies cannot be forbidden. He must also deal with a direct challenge to his authority and principles by a small group of men who want a tiered system for food distribution, with the larger portions going to those who are fighters.

Zus, who has joined up with Red Army partisans, finds his commitment to killing the Nazis questioned by the anti-Semites, who don't believe Jews are fighters. He, along with his Jewish comrades who came with him, must finally decide if he can continue to focus on death and live with the abuses that come from a system that does not truly accept him as an equal.

I recommend it. If you go see it, let me know what you think.

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