• 2009-01-28
  • By Justinas Vainilavicius

FOREST FIGHTERS: It may be worth going to see this film just for its setting in the forests of Lithuania.

Director: Edward Zwick

"Defiance," another World War II themed film, has hit the theaters. It is based on a true story and, like most such movies, concentrates on the Holocaust. But this one offers a slightly different perspective.
The story is about the four Bielski brothers, whose other family members were killed by the Nazis. They survived and fled to the woods, where other survivors were hiding. Being in the prime of their life, they decided to take care of the others. It is the story of how one of the most well-known Jewish resistance movements started.

 Jews being an active part of the war, fighting for their freedom with a gun in their hands, is what distinguishes this film from a slew of similar ones. The fact they are depicted not only as the victims, but sometimes as cruel as their enemies, is unusual and hence quite shocking. It is not the shooting and fighting that is most interesting in "Defiance," but moral issues like these being brought into the light and discussed.
Daniel Craig plays the lead role of Tuvia Bielski, the eldest of the brothers and initiator of Bielski Otriad, as it was called. His brother Zus (played by Liev Schreiber), who is the skeptical of the two, finally causing a rivalry between the brothers. Other siblings Asael (played by Jamie Bell) and Aron (played by George MacKay), along with several other characters, support the main plot line with some lighter content.

The film contains no more than two jokes, so it can get very depressing to watch, though Daniel Craig's Russian is very amusing. Unfortunately, it ruins some of the most dramatic scenes in the movie. Liev Schreiber, on the other hand, perfected the language and looked very authentic 's if we leave the fact aside that at the time Western Belarus, where the movie is set, was part of Poland and no one really spoke Russian there.
Linguistics is not the strongest part of the film. There are also some completely illogical scenes, which are not acceptable for a movie of such high profile. You also have to really live the film in order not to get bored or distracted, as "Defiance" is quite hard to watch. Not because it has a complex plot line, but rather due to it's somewhat intricate filming angles and slow story development.

However, some scenes are terrific, such as Lilka's (Alexa Davalos) encounter with a wolf in a snow-covered forest. Magical and frightening moments like these keep "Defiance" alive. The Lithuanian forest, where the film was shot, plays a significant role in making this movie realistic, as they are almost the same as the actual events that took place there.

Now showing Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia


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