Defiance (15)

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Edward Zwick's movie recreates the true story of a Jewish resistance in Nazi-occupied Belorussia, led by three brothers.

Daniel Craig plays reluctant leader Tuvia Bielski, whose belief in survival over revenge estranges him from warlike Zus (Liev Schreiber), while youngest brother Asael (Jamie Bell) mediates between them. Tuvia hides a community of Jewish refugees deep in the woods as killers launch a hunt. The endurance of bitter winters, near-starvation and disease is a remarkable story lent intensity by Zwick's action set pieces.

Less successful is the clunky script, which requires Craig to sit atop a white horse and deliver Braveheart-style speeches. It is a middlebrow, slightly pompous tribute to spiritual nobility, much in the manner of Zwick's The Last Samurai. It's a tale worth telling, but one could wish the film-makers had observed the kind of restraint which marked the Bielski brothers themselves – for decades they claimed no credit for their heroism. "Our revenge is to live," says Tuvia, whose efforts helped to save 1,200 people.