In Defiance, Daniel Craig plays Tuvia Bielski, one of the heroes of World War II. Bielski and his brothers saved hundreds of Jews from the Nazis. They led a community that survived in the forests of Belorussia, and led armed resistance against the Nazis.

Daniel Craig makes a great action hero, but there is no depth to his acting skills. He just could not bring excitement and reality to this courageous man. The other actors, including Liev Schreiber also seemed to be playing caricatures. Defiance tells a great, true story, but it ruined by poor acting.

The cinematography is wonderful. The beauty and desolation of the vast Belorussian forest are well depicted.

I do have what is very likely a minor quibble with one of the supposedly “authentic” details in the story. Tuvia and many of the survivors in the forest become ill as winter sets in. The partisans plan a raid on a Nazi police station to destroy their transmitter and take much-needed medicine. The medicine they steal is ampicillin, which was not in fact invented until 1961. Penicillin itself was not mass produced until 1944, and then only for the Allied forces. I have strong feelings that the filmmakers need to get these details correct, or they risk casting doubt on the authenticity of such an important story.

I suppose the answer, of course, may to read the book on which this movie is based. It was written by Nechama Tec, a noted Holocaust scholar. It is certainly on my to-do list.

Defiance: The Bielski Partisans


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