When Defiance first appeared on movie screens around the globe, it was one of the rare war-themed movies that piqued my interest. Daniel Craig, lately of James Bond fame, brought such new life to Casino Royale, I was curious to see him in a different role. Alas, the stars did not align correctly and I was unable to see Defiance at the theater. So when it was released on DVD in June, I knew I had to check it out.
Though I have a decent background in history, wars were never my strong suit. Other than what I'd read or seen on television or in other films, my knowledge of World War II and the atrocities done by the Germans to the many peoples of Eastern Europe was limited. History is clear that Adolph Hitler was indeed a monster. His will to destroy and remake Europe in an image of his own choosing brought immeasurable suffering to Europe.
Defiance tells of the Bielski brothers. Unable stand by and watch as their world was destroyed and innocents were slaughtered, the brothers managed to save more than a thousand people in the Belarussian forests during that time. Their little-known tale is a story of heroism and sacrifice.
Though not always in agreement, the two older brothers, Tuvia Bielski (Daniel Craig) and Zus Bielski (Liev Shreiber), and their two younger brothers proved that the Jewish people could make a choice - die like sheep or live free and fight to survive. Those who went with the Bielskis chose to be free. But like all freedoms, it came at a cost.
Many people of the Bielski Otriad (the group the Bielskis protected) found it difficult to adjust to their new situation. Everyone had to pitch in and help out the community - as builders, menders, cooks, nurses, fighters, and so on. And if the fact that they were hunted by German patrols at all times, and simply finding ways to survive in the forest weren't enough, they also had to deal with the harsh winters.