Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.
USA, 2008. Paramount Vantage, Grosvenor Park Productions, The Bedford Falls Company, Defiance Productions. Screenplay by Clayton Frohman, Edward Zwick, based on the book Defiance: The Bielski Partisans by Nechama Tec. Cinematography by Eduardo Serra. Produced by Pieter Jan Brugge, Edward Zwick. Music by James Newton Howard. Production Design by Dan Weil. Costume Design by Jenny Beavan. Film Editing by Steven Rosenblum. Academy Awards 2008. Golden Globe Awards 2008. Las Vegas Film Critics Awards 2008. National Board of Review Awards 2008.
A family of Jewish brothers see their friends and neighbours being carted off by Nazis in World War II Russia and decide not to sit around and wait for the worst. Escaping into the woods, they soon find themselves joined by more friends and strangers, with news of the burgeoning makeshift community that they’ve made smack dab in the middle of Russian nowhere spreading and people escaping to their safety in droves. The new microcosm that is created is left to the leadership of two of the brothers (Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber) until the latter of the two leaves to join the partisan Russian army. Edward Zwick directs with his usual attention to glorious detail, filming battle scenes with gusto and verve, scoring and photographing everything beautifully; his screenplay, unfortunately, is an embarrassment, so anxious to be respectful of this undeniably incredible story of survival that it turns average citizens (which is why they’re so impressive in the first place) into overblown, overly articulate romantic heroes. “You saved my life today,” Craig’s girlfriend tells him. “No, you’ve saved mine,” he responds. By the time one of the forest denizens announces to Craig that “This is my forest wife!”, you realize you’ve discovered your generation’s “No more wire hangers!” A total waste of time.