by - 6/05/2009

Directed by Academy Award® winner Edward Zwick (Blood Diamond), DEFIANCE stars Daniel Craig (Quantum of Solace), Liev Schreiber (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and Jamie Bell (Flags Of Our Fathers) as brothers, simple farmers—outnumbered and outgunned—who turned a group of war refugees into powerful freedom fighters.

PhotobucketThree ferociously committed actors fill the roles of the Bielski brothers, Jewish partisans who escaped into the forests of Eastern Europe during the Second World War. Daniel Craig (taking a break from 007 duty) is Tuvia, the leader of a group of refugees who eventually number over a thousand; Liev Schreiber is Zus, the antagonistic warrior; and Jamie Bell is Asael, a peacemaker no less devoted to the survival of the community. The three performers give life to director Edward Zwick's account of this little-known chapter of Jewish resistance to the Holocaust, which otherwise plays more like a history lesson than a full-blooded movie.

The film's best achievement is its strong location work, in Lithuania--as the community makes its home in the forest, the landscape becomes an important player in the drama at hand, and the changing of the seasons is charted with bone-chilling detail. Schreiber manages to get a little wry humor into this otherwise sober enterprise, and Daniel Craig creates an unusual character: a sort of anti-Bond, a hero whose body is all too fallible and whose decision-making is sometimes hesitant or morally compromised. It's a rare hero in a World War II movie that tends to withdraw from scenes rather than stride into them, but that's what Craig does. More than likely, the movie's main achievement will be sending the curious to read the histories of the Bielski brothers and why they matter in the chronicles of the Holocaust.

The DEFIANCE DVD is presented in widescreen enhanced for 16:9 TVs with Dolby Digital English 5.1 Surround, French 5.1 Surround and Spanish 5.1 Surround and English, French and Spanish subtitles.  The Blu-ray disc is presented in 1080p high definition with English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, French 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and English, English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.  The discs include the following special features in high definition as noted:

        •    Commentary by director Edward Zwick
        •    Defiance: Return to the Forest (HD)—Explores all aspects of production from the early stages of pre-production to shooting on location in Lithuania.  Edward Zwick and his creative team discuss some of the challenges and also the rewards of adapting this well-documented historical event into a feature film.
      •    Bielski Partisan Survivors (HD)—Photo gallery of images taken by Edward Zwick including behind-the-scenes images and surviving members from the Bielski Otriad.
       •    Children of the Otriad: The Families Speak (HD)—Descendents of the Bielski family tour the film's set and relate the story of the real-life partisans along with efforts to preserve the brothers' legacy.
      •    Scoring Defiance (HD) —Blu-ray only —Academy Award® nominated composer James Newton Howard and violinist Joshua Bell discuss the incredible film score for Defiance.
       •    Theatrical trailers (HD)

My Thoughts - If you like History (I love the History channel) and are a fan of some terrific acting, then  DEFIANCE will not disappoint you. I won't lie to you - Daniel Craig came as a complete surprise to me! I hadn't liked him at all in the new Bond movies (don't stone me, but I think he's absolutely the worst Bond ever!) and didn't expect anything great from him in this movie either. But, like I said before, he pleasantly surprised me. His acting is intense, effective and captures the character very well. Liev Schreiber is an actor whom I've admired in many small roles before. Here too, his is not the lead character, but his enactment of his role is worthy of mention.

My recommendation - This is definitely a movie that will appeal to a select section of the audience. The rest will love to hate it. I belong to the former category. What about you?

*** This product was received for review consideration. No other compensation was provided. The information provided here at the A Bookworm Mom's Diary blog is for entertainment purposes only and reflect only the personal opinion of this blogger. Readers of this blog reading and/or using any of the information they glean here, do so at their own risk. ***
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  1. Great movie. I watched it last night and completely agree with your thoughts on the movie. The movie made me want to research and read the book it is based on.

  2. I did the very same thing, Annalee. I'd never even heard of the Beliski brothers before the History channel!

    Thanks for stopping by.


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