“Defiance,” November 3, 2022 (2008), DVD. Based on a true story, Edward Zwick’s direction and screenplay stays close to Nachama Tec’s book of the same name. Filmed in Lithuania. Tuvia, Zus, and Asael Bielski (Daniel Craig, Live Schrieber, and Jaime Bell) are Belarussian Jewish brothers who separately escape the butchery of the SS in 1941. They flee together to the forests while picking up other Jews; almost 1,200 join their ranks. Hiding from the SS and antisemitic Belarussian collaborators, they try to organize for survival with people of varying skills, young and old, male and female. How does life go on? Can one retain one’s humanity in such condition? Conflicts emerge over whether all fighters should merge with the Red Army or remain independent partisans in community. Struggles for control and leadership also follow along with shortages of food and medicine. It is indeed a story of immense struggle, resilience, and love. While occasionally sentimental (the music here is affecting in that way), this is a tale of resistance and defiance in the face of incomprehensible horrors. It is also a look at those who, like the warriors of the Warsaw Ghetto, refused to go passively to their deaths.
Once again, the special features on the DVD added greatly to my sense of the film. They included a look at the Bielskis after the war, their children, and their grandchildren. This was created by one of the grandchildren. Pictures of survivors are featured in a separate short. The making of “Defiance,” is a separate piece worth watching.