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.
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.