Thursday, September 10, 2009


Edward Zwick, 2008 (8.0*)
They keep releasing holocaust films, and I, for one, keep watching them all; I find inspiration in the struggle of the of the common man against the fascist machine (Star Wars), usually the "freedom fighter" archetype. I saw Margaret Bourke-White's photos of Auschwitz at age 5, so the worst possible images are already seared into my psyche anyway; I recently posted a list of 100 at my Worlds Best Films site. I just saw Defiance, based on the true story of the Bielski brothers of Belarus, here played by Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber (he really fits this part!), who escaped the Nazi invasion of their land by going into the forests, as the Germans burned everything their path: villages, people, livestock, farmland. Over three years, the Bielskis saved over 1200 people, and fought alongside partisans. Their knowledge of the dense Nibelofski (sp?) Forest allowed them to continue to escape capture, and survive the winter outside.

Even though the film is not as intense as I expected, it still tells an inspiring story of those who fought back with literally nothing to begin with but a few hunting rifles, then more and more captured weapons as time progressed. This group refused to give up, and lend more historical credence to the lesson all have learned: never invade even a part of Russia. Napoleon's army invaded with over one million soldiers, and only 5000 returned to France.

A similar Russian film also eerily documents the invasion of Belarus, Come and See (1985), and it reveals the Nazi atrocities in more horrifying images, approaching a dreamlike quality rarely seen in war films outside of Apocalypse Now. Defiance is more of a traditional war film, with a good mix of story and action.


Zach Murphy November 6, 2009 at 5:45 AM  

You're right that this film lacked some intensity, but overall, it's still a great watch. The musical score in it was a particular standout for me.

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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