Thursday, July 7, 2011

Defiance (2008)

Bielski Brothers Battle Brownshirts

- Edward Zwick is a director that I think does not get the credit he deserves. He has made (with a couple of duds here and there, sure) one great film after another  - Glory (1989) and Blood Diamond (2006) are especially good - and Defiance continues his streak, being one of his best films to date.

Daniel Craig stars as Tuvia Bielski, a Polish Jew living during the German invasion of Poland in World War II. Accompanied by his brothers Zus (Liev Schreiber), Asael (Jamie Bell), and Aron (George MacKay), the Bielskis escape to the deep forests to protect other fugitive Jews from the Nazi death wave. Craig and Schreiber really excel in their roles as the tough Bielski brothers - both are sort of ying-and-yang mirror versions of each other with Craig's Tuvia having more of a survivalist mentality and Schreiber's Zus having more of a fighter mentality - intense in the face of the Nazi danger and crippled by the damage the Nazi's have caused.

Zwick is really a master of modern historical fiction films and he makes Defiance exciting, powerful, and thoughtful; but what makes this film different from others in his filmography is how the viewer is immediately dunked into the dark world of Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe and Jewish persecution without any placid set up. Other elements that make Zwick one of the best American directors around - exciting and well filmed action, great performances from his cast, deep cinematography, etc. - also contribute to make Defiance a must see for anyone who likes a good World War II movie.


CBC Rating: 8/10

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