Running time: 131 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15
UK release date: 9th January 2009
Watched on DVD Sunday 10th October 2010.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
This film has been lurking in my DVD collection for quite a while now, and so I thought it was a bit overdue a viewing. Finding myself at a loose end on a Sunday afternoon afforded the ideal opportunity. At two hours eleven minutes it’s a pretty long film, which probably explains why it has remained unwatched for so long. But enough of this, you want to hear about the film. The setting is Belarus in the early 1940’s. The German army has invaded and is beginning it’s persecution of the Jews in the region… oh, and by the way, it’s based on a true story.
After their parents are killed, three brothers, Tuvia, Zus and Asael Bielski, seek refuge in the forests near their home. They are soon joined by other survivors and it’s soon apparent that, as the oldest, Tuvia must take charge. The brothers are not the most law-abiding citizens and find their skills at smuggling are soon to be very useful. After finding out who was responsible for his parents’ murder, Tuvia exacts revenge on a local policeman and his family. As more and more survivors join the group tension mounts between Tuvia and Zus as they differ on how they should proceed. This culminates in a fight and Zus leaving to join the local brigade of the Red Army. Eventually the camp is discovered by the police and they are forced to move and, as winter approaches, life becomes very tough for the survivors. They now number in the hundreds and Asael meets a girl and marries her. They survive the winter only to discover that the Germans intend to sweep through the forest and take, or kill anyone they find. Zus is ordered by the Russian commander to retreat, leaving the Jews at the mercy of the approaching Nazis. And on that knife-edge, I’ll leave my short synopsis.
This is a pretty well made film with some nice action sequences interspersing the drama. Decent performances all round particularly from Daniel Craig as Tuvia, Liev Schreiber as Zus and Jamie Bell as Asael. All three stood out and put in really good performances. I should also give honourable mentions to Alexa Davalos as Lilka Ticktin, Allan Corduner as Shimon Haretz, Mark Feuerstein as Isaac Malbin and Tomas Arana as Ben Zion Gulkowitz.
As I mentioned at the beginning, it’s a pretty long film, and, despite this, I felt the filmmakers were still trying to fit too much in. It is a fascinating and awe inspiring story that deserves to be told, but I just felt it could have been done better. So, over all, it’s a pretty good film that doesn’t quite reach the standard set by the likes of Schindler’s List, but still a worthy effort. Recommended if you can spare the 2 hours, 11 minutes.
My score: 7.3/10
IMDb Site: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1034303/
Official Site: http://www.defiancemovie.com/