DEFIANCE–Brief Review

Went to see Defiance a couple of days ago. This is the story (based on real events) of a group of Jews in Nazi-occupied Byelorussia who obtained weapons, moved deep into the forest, and established a community there, sometimes joining with Russian partisans for raids on German troops and on local collaborators.

This post (via a comment by Eric at Bookworm) indicates that many “official” reviewers did not like this movie very much, and cites an absolutely bizarre passage in a review published by CNN:

It’s a remarkable story, one that should have inspired a more exciting and original movie than this sluggish compendium of earnest debates and hackneyed battle scenes.

The timing is unfortunate. For a story that has gone neglected for the best part of 60 years, this is hardly the ideal week to be extolling heroic Jewish resistance fighters. Ari Folman’s angst-laden nonfiction animated film, “Waltz With Bashir,” is altogether more relevant.

Zwick’s Hollywood liberal credentials are not in doubt, but his films have a surprisingly gung-ho undercurrent (they include such martial adventures as “The Last Samurai,” “Glory,” “The Siege,” “Legends of the Fall” and “Courage Under Fire”).

So, films are now supposed to be assessed based on the “Hollywood liberal credentials” of their directors? And the past heroism of Jews fighting their would-be murderers must only be portrayed and celebrated when Jews are not currently fighting other would be murderers?

Americans must no longer allow their opinions on movies, or on anything else, to be mediated by the court scribes of the old media. For movies as for books, reviews by “nonprofessionals” posted on blogs and on sites like Amazon are generally much more enlightening than those by the “professionals.”

Defiance will not go down as one of the great movies of all time, but it holds your interest and it tells a story that ought to be better known. Go and see it if you have a chance.

8 thoughts on “DEFIANCE–Brief Review”

  1. I wonder now if the forward-thinking movie publicity hounds aren’t thinking pretty much the same thing about the “court scribes of the old media” – for I do book and movie reviews for another news aggregate website (Blogger News Network) and book reviews for POD Book Reviews And More. Which are by no means internet media powerhouses – but the publicity firms which provides books, movie and TV series DVDs to the reviewers are terribly helpful and generous about sending copies for review to us. I wonder if, in the long run, a couple of hundred reviews on an assortment of websites aren’t more worthwhile to the starmaking machinery behind the popular song than a single review by one of the old MSM reviewers.

  2. I am a very small time blogger and in the past year I have received two free things from marketing companies that just wanted me to review the products on my blog. I think that you might be on to something Sgt. Mom.

  3. In postmodernism, all activities are subjugated to political needs. A postmodernist, which is almost everybody educated in the liberal arts since the 1960’s, interprets everything in terms of its immediate political utility.

  4. Zwick was executive producer of Thirty-something. It was a chick series – should she forgive him for cheating: In the tradition of Henry James, Edith Wharton, William Dean Howells – psychological realism, ethical dilemmas some may see as precious but are often complex puzzles. The movies are more masculine; in those tv scripts, characters were quite rounded. Some scripts moved beyond knee jerk leftism – especially those written by women, who demonstrated with sensitivity and intelligence the tensions between the demands of work & family (whether a new mother wants to return to work, decisions about the bris for the child of a mixed marriage, questions of business ethics and tensions with parents). For this the series was pilloried in Time and in Backlash; the series seemed to become self-conscious and looking over its back, kept inserting threads that would please such critics. Not surprisingly, it got less interesting. (That a news magazine would see a character as unrealistic and insulting because she chose to put her Ivy League education on hold while her baby was small was irritating; that it saw Susan Faludi, unmarried & childless, as representative is one of those ironies to which “trend setters” – well, trend followers – are oblivious.

    So, I go to IMDB to get information and first thread at Zwick is about his racism. Nobody is going to have sufficient “liberal credentials” if they also value complexity and growth in their characters if you ask me. I liked Glory but haven’t seen any of the others, so for all I know they are terrible. I have my doubts.

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