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Defiance - drama DVD / action adventure / military and war DVD review
DEFIANCE Rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 3 1/2 stars
Actors: Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, Jamie Bell, Alexa Davalos, Allan Corduner, Mark Feuerstein
Director: Edward Zwick   Studio: Paramount
DVD release: 02 June 2009   Runtime: 137 minutes (1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Aspect ratio 2.35:1, Audio tracks (Dolby 5.1 Digital Surround - English, French, Spanish), Subtitles (English, French, Spanish), Commentary (dir. Edward Zwick), Defiance: Return to the Forest, Bielski Partisan Survivors, Children of the Otriad: The Families Speak, Theatrical trailers

There are many depictions of Jews in Europe during World War II, both in film and in literature. They are usually seen as mostly downtrodden and massacred, as in Elie Wiesel's Night or Art Spiegelman's Maus. Defiance tells a different story.

The Bielski brothers - Tuvia (Daniel Craig), Zus (Liev Schreiber), Asael (Jamie Bell) and Aron (George MacKay) - took to the forests beyond their village when the Nazis attacked. Their parents had been killed, and many others from their village in eastern Poland were killed or rounded up and moved to ghettos for eventual extermination. The Bielskis not only escaped this fate themselves but helped others to do the same. They set up a camp in the forest, where eventually around 1,000 Jews were protected from death.

The Bielski brothers took their share of blood in return for the crimes against them, but mostly they were in it to protect the community they created. It would be easy to turn Defiance into a knock-down drag-out action adventure romp (especially with James Bond in the lead), but while there is action it is not the focus of Defiance. Much attention is paid to the survival of these refugee Jews through a winter that would take many lives.

The Bielski Partisans (as they were called) had to defend their refugees, and they had to steal to feed them as well. They attacked and killied Nazis to bolster their supplies and defend themselves. Later Zus would leave the group to join with Russian Partisans to kill more Nazis, while Tuvia and Asael stayed to fight for Jewish lives and freedom. Better they should die on their feet than on their knees.

I don't doubt that Defiance took some dramatic liberties, but the core of the story is true. These Partisans defied capture for more than two years and survived the Holocaust. Two of the three brothers survived and started a trucking firm in the States. Their legacy lives to this day in the children and the grandchildren of the Jews who were spared the fate the Nazis had planned for them.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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