I just watched this movie again last night, and it is one of my favorite movies of all time. Dark, horrific, and full of language, but one of my favorites.
It's also based on a true story.
It's about the Bielski brothers, jews, fighters, leaders. Hunted. IMDb summarizes: "Jewish brothers in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe escape into the Belarussian forests, where they join Russian resistance fighters and endeavor to build a village in order to protect themselves and about 1,000 Jewish non-combatants."
During the fall of 1941, Tuvia, Zus, Asael, and Aron Bielski escape into the forest, running from those who slaughtered their parents. Other jews flee there as well, and soon Tuvia takes over, providing a home and food for these refugees. It becomes a camp of desperate jews, all working together to make a home, a community.
They are trained to fight, even the women. Moving from place to place, as the Germans discover their whereabouts, they try and succeed and suffer together.
The movie chronicles the Bielski brothers' struggles to provide as more and more jews pour into the forest in search of the fabled Bielski Otriad. They join forces with Russian freedom fighters, and the group splits up as frictions between the two older brothers (Tuvia and Zus) come to light.
The crux of the movie, for me, is when a German soldier the fighters have captured is brought into the Bielski camp. Tuvia has stated how they (the jews) are not animals, however they might be hunted like them. But when the soldier is brought before a group of angry refugees, they start crying obscenities at him, blaming him for everything they have suffered.
One woman starts screaming about her son, how he had blue eyes and was fifteen, and then brings the butt of her rifle down upon the German soldier. Everyone else starts crying out about their dead brother or sister or parents, all the while hitting the soldier who is now on the ground.
The angry group beats him to death.
And all the while, Tuvia stands there, letting them have their vengeance. But his face is sad.
The irony of this scene just strikes me right in the gut.
Defiance is one of the best movies, in my opinion, ever. It conveys a message, portrays evil and suffering, grim determination and grit, and shows how hope can keep a person alive. A true, incredible story.
One of my all-time favorite quotes is when Tuvia Bielski says, "If we should die, trying to live, then at least we died like human beings."
Chills all over.