100%

Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Share

Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

The University of Michigan Library provides access to these materials for educational and research purposes. These materials may be under copyright. If you decide to use any of these materials, you are responsible for making your own legal assessment and securing any necessary permission. If you have questions about the collection, please contact the Bentley Historical Library at bentley.ref@umich.edu

January 15, 2009 - Image 43

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2009-01-15

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Arts & Entertainment

Kings Of The Forest

Edward Zwick's Holocaust film Defiance depicts
the largest armed rescue of Jews by Jews



Michael Fox

Special to the Jewish News

I

n the gripping World War II
drama Defiance, the Jews fight
back. That's all you need to
know about Edward Zwick's saga
of survival and community in the
woods of Eastern Europe.
The veteran Hollywood writer-
director set out to do more than
just adapt the remarkable true
story of the heroic Bielski brothers,
who organized and protected hun-
dreds of Belorussian Jews from the
Nazis and their collaborators. Led
-
by the fearless but reluctant eldest
Edward Zwick, right, directs Daniel Craig and his film love
brother, Tuvia, played by Daniel
interest, played by Alexa Davalos.
Craig (the latest James Bond),
the trio — including Zus (Liev
factors that contributed to the prevailing
unfolds in the forest
Schreiber) and Asael (Jamie Bell)
and ongoing view of Jews as victims. The
the Bielskis knew
— hid, defended and supported an
most jarring is the lengthy silence of those
so well, and which
ever-growing community of Jewish
largely shielded them who resisted the Nazis.
survivors in the forest. Tough and
"Everyone I've ever met who's done
from the Nazis. In
resilient, the brothers have two con-
something
of this sort does not want to
his research, Zwick
cerns — revenge and survival.
be
reminded
of that time Zwick asserted,
turned
up
a
fascinat-
It's reassuring, and even thrill-
"and,
in
fact,
there
are things they have
ing
detail.
ing, to see Jews with guns in a
done
of
which
they
are not necessarily
"When
you
see
World War II movie; but to its
proud.
On
top
of
which
there was a certain
maps
of
Eastern
credit much of Defiance revolves
measure
of
survivor's
guilt.
Why should
Europe,
and
even
around the moral consequences of
about
themselves
when
so many
they
talk
Western
Europe,
violence. Self-defense is justified,
others
had
been
lost?"
where
Jews
were
able
of course, and killing the enemy
For Jewish moviegoers, Defiance will
to survive, it had to
(including Belorussian collabora-
readily
evoke associations with the Exodus
do
with
landscape
tors) during wartime is necessary.
and
Chanukah
tales. Zwick adds another
Daniel
Craig
as
Tuvia
Bielski
holds
Liev
Schreiber
as
Zus
Bielski
in
he
noted.
"In
an
But Tuvia questions how far the
biblical
point
of
reference.
The
film
is
based
on
the
nonfiction
book
urban
setting
of
the
Defiance.
brothers should go to shed blood and Edward Zwick's
"For
me,
it
led
me back at one point to
sort
that
[most
Jews]
Defiance:
The
Bielski
Partisans.
how much satisfaction they should
again' he confided.
of
Judges
were
in,
there
was
no
read
the
Book
take.
of
Judges
is a positive Iliad
"Now,
the
Book
hiding.
And
they
were
often
revealed
by
sweater,
faded
jeans
and
athletic
shoes.
Zwick, 56, has crafted a calculated
of
Jewish
warriors.
And
it
reinforced that
others
who
sought
them
or
exposed
them."
"There
is
a
very
important
distinction
rebuff to the 60-year-old myth of Jewish
understanding
of
how
that
warrior tradi-
Defiance
where
There's
a
sequence
in
that
has
to
be
understood
between
pas-
passivity.
tion
had
been
central
to
the
culture — and
an
accountant
joins
the
group
in
the
for-
sivity
and
powerlessness:'
he
said.
"The
The Bielski brothers' experiences, Zwick
always
has
been.
To
read
about
Gideon and
est.
"That'll
come
in
handy,'
snickers
one
Jews
were
a
stateless
people.
They
had
explained in an interview, "addressed
Joshua
and
Jeptha
and
Deborah
and Judith,
veteran
of
the
encampment,
in
what
can
no
access
to
weapons.
They
didn't
have
something that had nagged at my uncon-
and
it
just
goes
on
and
on:"
be
viewed
as
a
riposte
to
the
portrayal
of
a
government
in
support
of
them
of
any
scious for a very long time: 'Where was
You can add the Bielski brothers to that
Jews (notably the Ben Kinglsey character)
kind. Their neighbors were often hostile.
that spirit of resistance? Why had it not
long
list of fighting heroes. Zwick, like all
But
Zwick
brushed
that
in
Schindler's
List.
The
local
gendarmerie
was
often
in
col-
been portrayed?' The Warsaw Ghetto was
filmmakers, intends for his work not only
reading aside.
something that had stood alone as the sort laboration with the Nazis, and they were
to entertain and educate, but to have last-
"I don't think filmmakers make movies
confronted by this remarkably, precisely
of poster child for it, but there seemed
ing impact.
in reaction to other movies. It was, in fact,
executed policy. So that rendered them
to be no other evidence. As I began to
"The notion that I might be adding
in response to a pervasive iconography
powerless. But at any moment that they
research, I found that that impulse had
another
iconic image to that vocabulary
of
victimization
and
passivity
that
I
have
could
find
the
means
to
resist,
they
did.
been everywhere:'
for a younger generation is something
And that's what was absent in the portrait: experienced since childhood!"
Zwick, a graduate of Harvard, speaks
that was important to me. Because there
Zwick, who grew up in the northern
the human impulse to resist."
in long paragraphs, a rarity among
is shame attached to that single and more
suburbs of Chicago and made his name
Defiance was shot outside Vilnius,
Hollywood types. It's also rather unusual
oversimplified understanding of what
to hear such weighty insights dispensed by Lithuania, some 60 kilometers from where in Hollywood with the film Glory and TV
happened."
series thirtysomething, lists a number of
someone dressed in L.A. casual — V-neck the Bielskis had been. The entire story

January 15 • 2009

CS

Back to Top

© 2021 Regents of the University of Michigan