Daniel Craig as Tuvia Bielski
Liev Schreiber as Zus Bielski
Jamie Bell as Asael Bielski
Alexa Davalos as Lilka Ticktin
Allan Corduner as Shamon Haretz
Mark Feuerstein as Isaac Malbin
Tomas Arana as Ben Zion Gulkowitz
Jodhi May as Tamara Skidelsky
Kate Fahy as Riva Reich
Iddo Yitzchak Shulman
Iben Hjejle as Bella
Martin Hancock as Peretz Shorshaty
Ravil Isyanov as Viktor Panchenko
Jacek Koman as Konstanty Koscik’ Kozlowski
George MacKay as Aron Bielski
Jonjo O’Neill as Lazar
Sam Spruell as Arkady Lubczanski
Mia Wasikowska as Chaya Dziencielsky
– Audio Commentary by Director Edward Zwick
– Return to the Forest: The Making of “Defiance”
– Children of The Otriad: The Families Speak
– Bielski Partisan Survivors
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Spanish and French Languages
Spanish and French Subtitles
Running Time: 136 Minutes
The following is the official description of the film:
“Daniel Craig (‘Quantum of Solace’) stars as Tuvia Bielski, an ordinary citizen turned hero, in this action-packed epic of family, honor, vengeance and salvation. Defiance is a riveting adventure that showcases the extraordinary true story of the Bielski brothers, simple farmers – outnumbered and outgunned – who turned a group of war refugees into powerful freedom fighters. Tuvia, along with his unyielding brother, Zus (Liev Schreiber, ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’), motivate hundreds of civilians to join their ranks against the Nazi regime. Their Inspirational story is a true testament to the human spirit.”
“Defiance” is rated R for violence and language.
I think a sign of a good WWII movie is that it shows you a piece of the war that you never knew about or it gives you a different perspective on something that’s already familiar. “Defiance” does both of those things. Most people are familiar with the Holocaust and what the Jews went through in Germany and central Europe. But this story highlights the plight of Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland. As Jews were being rounded up and killed, this small group hid in the woods and set up a small, hidden community. And while we’re familiar with the Resistance in Holland and France, this shows the roles of Jews in the Polish resistance. All of this together makes a unique and interesting story within the familiar setting of WWII.
Daniel Craig delivers a fine performance as Tuvia Bielski. He becomes the default leader of this group. And while he’s brave and noble, he is also eventually broken down and vulnerable. He’s a much more realistic hero than you typically get in war movies. And he’s additionally heroic because of how he saves his community, not because of any superhuman feats in battle. Liev Schreiber is also quite good as Zus Bielski. It’s very easy to see why they picked him for Sabretooth in the “Wolverine” movie. Both films feature him clashing with a brother over how their war should be conducted. He’s just not a mutant homicidal maniac here. Jamie Bell is also notable as Asael Bielski, the youngest brother who truly becomes a man and rises to his potential during their time in the wilderness. Each brother has an essential personality trait that ultimately helps the community survive.
Overall, “Defiance” has a good mix of history, drama, action, and romance. It’s a pretty satisfying film that should please fans of war movies, Daniel Craig, or Liev Schreiber.
You’ll find a good offering of bonus features. Most notable is an interview with the children and grandchildren of Tuvia and Zus Bielski. They give insight into the real men and talk about what happened in the years after WWII. It’s required viewing once you have seen the movie. There’s also a making-of featurette. They discuss the development of the script, shooting in Yugoslavia, and other interesting aspects of making “Defiance.” Edward Zwick makes an interesting comparison between these Jews hiding out in the wilderness and the Jews wandering the desert for 40 years. It was a unique parallel that I missed when watching the movie.