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Defiance

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The video above is no longer available, but YouTube currently has this one -- and it matches the one I saw on the big screen tonight. It's interesting, and the final lines seem almost calculated to get the attention of the "faith-based market".

A better-quality version can be found here.

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Nikki Finke and the Hollywood Reporter say the film's release date is being delayed somewhat (as is The Soloist's).

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Daniel Craig is wonderful in this. In many ways a Moses figure, but there's also a reminder that he's not Moses. Good tension on the ethics and goals of partisan fighters. An excellent prayer of lamentation ("Choose another people. Take back the gift of our holiness.")

As to the questions in Peter's blog, the brothers do come out has heroes in the story. Tuvia is probably the moral light of the bunch, but by no means perfect.

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Spoilers. Just caught up with this. I've got a soft spot for the way Zwick does his Big Earnest History Lessons, as much as they can be clunky and obvious. This one is clunkier and more generic than his other big action movies, but I found a lot to like.

I was most surprised with the depth of Craig's performance and the way Zwick avoids lionizing Tuvia as another faceless action hero (at least until that last battle), by showing his indecision in the most critical moment, and by not glossing over the morally questionable decisions he makes. I was certain when they captured the German that it would result in yet another noble "spare the enemy/we're not like them" speech, but what happens instead really drove home the complexity of managing their situation -- of trying to remain morally upright, but also needing to dissipate tension that would destroy from within. The way Craig captures that mixture of pain and pragmatism is pretty haunting.

In fact, even though the movie ends on a boring, typically heroic note, I was surprised at the extent to which the whole film doesn't sugarcoat the brothers' brutality or poor decisions.

Was also pleased and surprised that there was no dragged out Zwickian denouement. I'm kind of amazed he didn't include a scene that followed the Bielskis to New York. tongue.gif

The end battle, though, was straight out of another movie. It's the most shameless, unnecessary action scene Zwick's shoehorned into a film. It's bad enough to nearly sink the whole thing, and would have if not for the stuff mentioned above.

Edited by N.W. Douglas

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whoa, I didn't realize how short the thread here was on this one. I thought it was easily one of the very best of 2008. Yes, the acting performances are better than usual (particularly better than what you'd expect from this cast). This thing is beautifully shot, the woods and the snow portray both beauty and hardship at the same time. Finally, the end of winter shots reminded me of C.S. Lewis describing the end of winter in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Sure, Tuvia isn't Moses. But I think he helped me understand Moses just a little bit better. He's obviously trying to do the right thing. You wouldn't think it would be that difficult to get people to do what - obviously - is in their best interests (in fact, it's a matter of life and death). Craig's performance is so good in this because he perfectly captures a strong man under the pressure of constant needling, constant complaining, constant questioning of his motives and authority. He's trying to help a group of people who actually seem like they are purposely trying to drive him to insanity. I actually went back to Exodus and etc. after seeing this film, and the few times Moses actually completely snaps, well they make a lot of sense actually.

The battle at the end didn't bother me so much because by the time they get around to it, I was already exhausted. They overcome one incredible difficulty after another. If you've read or seen many of these stories about Jews during WWII, you have an expectation for how it's going to end. Then against all odds, Tuvia leads his little ragged band to survival only to meet almost certain defeat again. Then, with unexpected help, they overcome that obstacle only to find defeat waiting for them again. And then they ... and so on.

Great film. Great story. I personally like it better than Schindler's List.

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Also: I forgot to mention the musical score by James Newton Howard. Both haunting and beautiful.

And oh yeah, this film also probably includeds Mia Wasikowska's best performance so far. She's given more range in this than in Alice in Wonderland.

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