Defiance Hollywood Style

Zus Bielski (Liev Schreiber) and Tuvia Bielski (Daniel Craig)

Defiance of 2008 directed by Edward Zwick is predictable and vindicating for middling filmgoers.  Bielski Otriad as the Russians described them took to the woods for safety against German orchestrated annihilation during World War II.  Zwick is credited with writing and producing this film inspired by Nechama Tec’s Defiance: The Bielski Partisans (1994) about this heroic Jewish moment.

Discovering slain parents and siblings, the Bielski brothers retreat into Białowieża Forest to regroup before exacting revenge on the perpetrators.  More Aryan than Jewish, current James Bond actor Daniel Craig is miscast as Tuvia Bielski, the cornerstone of strength and emotional solitude.  Genetically baffling, Liev Schreiber plays Zus Bielski, an equaling commanding presence, yet displays an erratic need for outbursts and violence to quell his rage.  Their two younger brothers, Jamie Bell as Asael Bielsk and George MacKay as Aron Bielski, can reel and cry about their family’s massacre; thus, Tuvia and Zus are relieved from demonstrating those visceral, weak wailings of loss, at least at the inception of the film.

While in the wooden terrain, they encounter similarly disenfranchised Jews.  Quibbling over whether to include or exclude this feeding burden, eventually a sizable cluster of resident refugees congeals.  Tensions escalate with food shortages and weighing the contribution each member can offer.  The main actor of TV’s Royal Pains Mark Feuerstein (who has been horribly thin lately) is the type-casted scholar who convinces Tuvia about his system of gather information outlining skills sets of the castaways.  Tuvia’s approach in establishing a community clashes with Zus’s desire to battle.  Solution for Zus is becoming a “comrade” in the Russian brigade abandoning his brother’s dystopian settlement.

Romantic pairings are obvious at the outset as is the sense that producers wanted to celebrate this small tale of Jewish triumph (remarkable as it is) to reconfigure the inconceivable knowledge of mass, calculated genocide.  Zwick makes the mistake of cutting a film over two hours hoping that prolonged scenes will convey profundity.   If mastering editing is not a prerequisite to graduate in filmmaking, universities need to update their programs.  More often than not, films overrun their viewer’s patience.  Defiance is not different.  Despite the skirmish near the end to lift the audiences into the denouement, the ammunition energy drags rather than awakens senses.

The star Mia Wasikowska of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (2010) has a respectable number of scenes.  Having seen Alice before Defiance, I am confident that she has range to utilize in upcoming projects.

Zwick’s film Glory (1989) had been an incredible work, yet lately directed works such as Legends of the Fall (1994) and The Siege (1998) fulfills narrow fancies for simplistic desires whether romanticism or trim punishment of evildoers.  Defiance feels like a mini cube of cheese in cases where you need a pound.

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