« Viktor Frankl's _Man's Search for Meaning_ | Main | Charlotte Delbo's _Auschwitz and After_ »

February 21, 2009

Defying the Odds in Edward Zwick's _Defiance_

Video URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIO8OI0JP50

Defiance. Dir. Edward Zwick. Perf. Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, et. al. Paramount, 2008.

21 February 2009

ENG 340 Students,

A big, sincere "thanks" to all of you who took time out of your Saturday today to come with me to the screening of Edward Zwick's Defiance at the Muvico Starlight 20 Cinema today on Bruce B. Downs in New Tampa.

For any of you who . . .

. . . would like to leave a remark or two about your impressions of the film please do so in the comment box below.

More details about the producers, actors, and screenwriters are available at the IMDb website HERE.

Image Source: http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/revolt/bielski.html

The United States Holocaust Museum's Holocaust Encyclopedia, a site you should definitely take some time to explore on your own, has an entry on the historical "Bielewski Partisans," the group depicted in the Defiance film HERE. Check it out.

As promised, those of who who attended both the film and our meeting afterwards will be exempt from the mid-term examination. However, you will still need to show up for our regular class meeting.

I look forward to reading your comments.

See you in our next meeting,

Dr. Hobbs

Posted by lhobbs at February 21, 2009 06:51 PM

Readers' Comments:

I truly enjoyed seeing the film Defiance. It was a different perspective on the Holocaust that we have yet to visit in class. I believe we are used to hearing of the horrors that occurred inside the camps but what about the horrors that went on outside of the camps, in hiding? While these Jews were able to experience a sense of “freedom” that the prisoners were unable to, it was still a difficult life to lead. How free can you truly be if you live in constant hiding? If you have to scavenge for food?
I was touched by how much the Bielewski brothers did for the sake of people they didn’t even know. They took people in even when there wasn’t enough food to feed those who were already there. It was also moving to see how the people were able to carry on with the traditions of their religion and pretenses of life. The fact that they had marriages within the camp, I feel, helps to keep the humanity alive. However, the scene where the people were brutally beating the German soldier that was brought back was the hardest for me to watch. They resorted to their animalistic instincts but can we really blame them? What would I have done? This is something that I cannot answer. You could see that some did not want to torture the soldier while others did everything they could just to get a piece. The way it was depicted in the film reminded me of a feeding at a zoo.
Now I wonder how much of this was changed by Hollywood? In the beginning of the film I liked how they had it begin as a old film reel. It gave the true story a more authentic feel to me. The same is true for the pictures they showed at the end of the movie. Overall, it was a good experience and I am glad we were able to go. It helped me see another aspect of the Holocaust through a different medium.

Posted by: Sarah T. at February 21, 2009 10:18 PM


Thank you for those comments Sarah. I shared many of your sentiments as I reflected on the film afterwards.

~Dr. Hobbs

Posted by: Dr. Hobbs at February 21, 2009 10:38 PM

I thought this movie was very well done. It should the struggles and determinations that the Jews had to stay alive and get out of the forrest. It shows that Jews would do just about anything to escape their lives of hell in the ghetto's. They would rather freeze and go hungry instead of living in their houses and be ruled by the Nazi's or even worse threaten their lives and be killed.
The Bielewski brothers didn't have to save all of the people that followed them but they did out of the goodness of their hearts and to bring some light into tragedy. Even in the mist of their escape into freedom, their was still some conflict and people who turned on each other for survival. Yet at the same time that people turned on each other, they also pulled together to build their houses, school, kitchens and other buildings they need to survive. Each of them tried to make the best of the worst of situations, the men taught the women how to become fighters so they can stand fighting side by side and the women pulled together and helped serve and get food for the people in the forest. What amazed me the most was that in the mist of all of this tragedy these people still managed to keep their faith and stay on track to getting out of the forest and escape the Nazi's. The message through out the movie that Tuvia tried to express was not to turn into animals like the Nazi's have done by just killing jews and torturing innocent people.
In the end these people survived three years moving to different parts of the forrest and making it thru together. Some lives were lost and there was one life that was born in the mist of all of this. This movie did an amazing portrayal of just how hard it was to survive during these times, that people had to hide in the forest and live off of barely their food, clothes and shelter.

Posted by: Renee Forero at February 22, 2009 11:41 AM


Fine observations you've made Renee. After all the portrayals we've been exposed to thus far about victims of the Holocaust, it is refreshing to learn about another story that demonstrates the possibilities of the human spirit when faced with the unthinkable.

~Dr. Hobbs.

Posted by: Dr. Hobbs at February 22, 2009 09:13 PM

Defiance, I thought, was a great film. I kept thinking to myself how this story was actually true and how 3 ordinary people could help and control the deaths of almost 1200 people for years. It was completely incredible to me. I believe that the film viewed over the realistic characteristics of these brothers, and truly didn't make them look like heros, but just ordinary people who at some instances didn't know what to do themselves. All three of the brothers were very couragous. I felt that the ending was a little abbrupt, but then again, putting 2 more years into this film would be too draining. I truly enjoyed the film, all aspects, and i felt it fit perfectly for this class.

Posted by: Emily Belvo at February 23, 2009 07:29 PM

Thanks Emily. I too felt it was appropriate. Your remarks about the ending are valid. Consider how _Grey Zone_ ended, in contrast. Both featured a rebellion but left different ideas in the head of the viewer for the "fade to black."

~Dr. Hobbs

Posted by: Dr. Hobbs at February 26, 2009 03:20 PM

My Blog

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Some rights reserved. 2006.