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New movie reviews for the Vail Valley

Charlie Owen
Vail, CO, Colorado
cowen@vaildaily.com
Special to the Daily
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Director Edward Zwick, who has already given us a few epic war films ” “Glory” and “The Last Samurai” ” returns to the genre with a new take on the persecution of Jews by Nazi forces during World War II. “Defiance” gets a welcome twist though.

Finally, a film that depicts Jews fighting back against the savagery of the Nazi party instead of huddling in concentration camps, waiting to die.

In 1941, Nazi forces began tearing through Eastern Europe, mercilessly rounding up and killing Jewish people in its war campaign to conquer the continent. Three brothers, Tuvia (Daniel Craig), Zus (Liev Schreiber) and Asael (Jamie Bell) Bielski, escape to the forest after their parents are murdered by the local police force under orders of the occupying Germans. But they are not alone ” other refugees have found safe haven in the forest too. Eventually, as more and more Jews are brought to the shelter of the woods, a village is erected and a society forms that allows them to live as humanly as possible despite the constant threat of death. The film slowly builds on the sibling rivalry between Tuvia and Zus, and watching them both try to lead the camp lends drama to the film when the bullets aren’t flying.



In order to keep the people of the forest fed and protected, the brothers, along with other men in the camp, attack German patrols and lead raids on local farms sympathetic to the Nazi cause. After a raid gone wrong and some of the Jewish rebels are killed, the brothers’ differing ideologies divide them and Zus leaves the camp to fight alongside Red Army guerillas, knowing this will give him a chance to kill more Germans. Tuvia, however, stays with the camp, his leadership role increasing by the day as more and more people begin to look to him as their savior. He’s portrayed as Robin Hood, William Wallace and Moses all rolled into one.

“Defiance,” as a war epic, isn’t all that outstanding. The battle scenes aren’t anything special and it follows many of the cliches of previous films. There’s even the obligatory scene where a bomb falls close to Tuvia and the sound fades out as he watches his people die in slow motion. Instead, it’s as a think piece that this film works more than anything. For instance, it’s impossible to comprehend why the Nazi’s wanted to kill the Jews, especially when these ones were living in a forest, not bothering anyone, just trying to survive the harshness of winter. Apparently, they’re a threat since the German’s sent in an entire force to try to slay them. It also raised the question: Just how tough am I and what would I be willing to do to survive persecution like that? After seeing what Tuvia and his band of rebels had to do just to stay alive ” fighting Germans, sickness, starvation, even themselves ” one has to wonder at what point despair becomes too great for the human spirit to overcome.



Most importantly, though, “Defiance” shows a side of the war overlooked for too long, and it’s somewhat therapeutic watching Nazis get their skulls crushed by the people they’re trying to destroy.

High Life Writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 970-748-2939 or cowen@vaildaily.com.

Rated: R



Directed by: Edward Zwick

Starring: Daniel Craig, Liev Shreiber, Jamie Bell, George MacKay


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