Monday, January 12, 2009

New Movie DEFIANCE Tells the True Story of the Bielski Brothers During WWII

I have been debating since I saw the movie DEFIANCE two days ago what I thought of this true story of Jewish brothers “who defied the Nazis, saved 1,200 Jews and built a village in the forest.”

This quote is from the cover of the book THE BIELSKI BROTHERS by Peter Duffy (which I have but haven’t read yet). The movie was based on the book DEFIANCE: THE BIELSKI PARTISANS by Nechama Tec.

(There’s a little confusion in reviews about how many Bielski brothers there were. The Duffy book says three, although the movie gives the three a little brother. Perhaps this is why at the end of the movie only the fate of the three brothers is given.)

On the one hand, this movie is as important storytelling as was Jon Avnet’s television movie UPRISING about the Warsaw Ghetto. Both these stories tell the world that all Jews did not go quietly to the gas chambers.

On the other hand, to me this particular version of a true story was really told as the biblical story of Esau and Jacob. And, in fact, the movie version ends when the Esau character (Liev Schreiber) and the other Jews who have been fighting with the Russian partisans return just in the nick of time to save the Jacob character (Daniel Craig) and his “sheep” from being slaughtered – approximately two years before the end of the war.

I’ve read glowing reports and not-so-glowing reports of the film. You’ll have to see the film yourself and make up your own mind.

One thing I can say about this film, it’s no SCHINDLER’S LIST.

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