Andrew Branca



Here is another film that has slipped under the radar of both critics and audiences. “Defiance” opened this weekend and was a pleasant reminder that good films are still made in mainstream Hollywood. 

With films such as “The Unborn,” “Hotel for Dogs,” “Bride Wars” and “Notorious” cluttering the marquee it shows that it is more profitable to make junk than produce a quality product. It seems that quality is something that is little cared for because it involves time, effort and dedication.  

As I have said in the past, a simple plot line makes for the best and most memorable films and that is one reason “Defiance” works so well. Once filmmakers bog a movie down with sub-plots or other unfinished ideas, it loses the charm that draws audiences to pay their $8 to see it. The plot in “Defiance” is simple, direct and uncompleted.

Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber are the only two well-known actors in the film, which has a relatively unknown and obscure cast. The story line centers on four Jewish brothers who escape to the woods from Nazi-occupied Poland. During the course of the war, the brothers, along with other escaped Jews, fight with the Russians against the Nazis. Over time, the brothers support more than 1,200 refuges in a village built in the forest. 

Craig has the feature role in the film, starring as Tuvia Bielski, the leader of the group that is spending the war in the woods away from Nazi occupation.

He takes on many responsibilities such as provider, leader, protector, friend and guardian. His decisions and even his character are questioned at times by members of the group and his own family. Chartered on a course of least resistance, the group only fights backs when the Germans come knocking at their door.

In the second leading role is Liev Schreiber as Zus Bielski. Zus’s character is the opposite of Tuvia because he wants to take the fight to the Germans and make them pay for what they have done. Tuvia and Zus’s ideas on leadership constantly clash and usually end up in a fistfight. Because of his strong feelings, he leaves and a number of men go with him to join the partisans in the fight against the common enemy.

The film speaks well of the character of the four brothers and the people that they saved. Despite the world going falling apart around them, they still manage to retain their humanity and dignity.

Other films that have painted a unique and very realistic portrait include “Schindler’s List” and “The Pianist” – two other must-sees if you’re looking for something to rent at the video store. 

The film is based on a true story and is an adaptation of Nechama Tec’s book, “Defiance: The Bielski Partisans.” See it to know the importance of the story and its reminder to remember the brave acts and self-sacrifice of ordinary people. 

The film is rated R for violence and language.

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