Defiance (2008)

It must be the season for good movies that thematically deal with WWII, the Nazi’s and the Jews. This is a good thing. Although this important historical period is fairly recent, it seems far from the minds of many people.

Recently I have watched and Boy in the Striped Pajamas and Valkarie. Defiance is probably the best of these 3 good movies. It is the story of a Jewish group of brothers that flee into the woods to escape the Nazis. Soon they are joined by a multitude of other Jews. The movie depicts there struggle for survival while fighting off the Nazis and the elements. It is based on a true story and is highly recommended.

The writers do a great job of weaving in important themes that we should consider in their context. Political philosophies of Marxism, Facism and Zionism are presented.

The struggle of Jewish identity is squarely faced. On the one hand, the defiant Jews see themselves as followers of Moses fleeing from Pharaoh. On the other hand, prayers are offered asking God to rescind his selection of the Jews as the chosen people.

I have been reading a great deal lately about Russian history during this time period and before. It is worth noting that the movie accurately depicts anti-Semitism not only from the Nazis, but also from the Russian communists.

The themes are also timely in light of the Bernard Madoff scandal. In the movie, the people survive by behaving as “community”. The main character that rocks this community meets a certain fate. This sense of community helps explain the betrayal felt by the Jewish community over one of their own so dastardly breaking this ideal of community.