Plot Summary: Four brothers care for and defend Jews hiding in the Belarusian forest during World War II.


Reason for the Rating: Violence and language.


Defiance is a movie based on a true story about Jews in Eastern Europe who escaped into the forest to survive the Nazi regime. Unlike other World War II accounts, this movie isn’t set in Germany, but in Belarus. Which makes the movie all the more interesting, as it’s not often we hear about the effects this war had on Russia, and specifically Russian Jews.


Tuvia (Daniel Craig) and Zus Bielski (Liev Schreiber) are adult brothers whose parents have recently been killed by the Nazi’s, leaving behind two younger brothers, Asael (Jamie Bell) and Aron (George MacKay). Having grown up roaming and hunting in the Belarusian forest, the brothers decide to hide in the vast expanse of forest until the end of the war. Which works out fine, until Aron comes across another small group of Jews who have also escaped into the forest. And slowly this family of brothers becomes a collection of mothers, daughters, rabbi’s and intellects who cannot survive in the forest alone.


Against the wishes of Zus, Tuvia decides to care for and protect these precious people. Zus sees the practical side of the situation…how to feed and hide what ultimately becomes 1,200 people. Unable to agree with Tuvia, Zus leaves and joins the Russian partisans to fight the Nazi’s.


On the direction of Tuvia, a village is built in the forest. Each person has a job to do in preparation for the fast approaching Russian winter. There are bunkers to built, food to secure, meals to prepare, and the sick to attend. It’s amazing what a little hope can do. But what will happen when the Nazi’s discover their hiding place?


With themes of honor, survival, and faith, Defiance is a movie that leaves you thinking. After many months in the forest, the rabbi prays, asking God why he has allowed this to happen, and why he has seemingly abandoned the Jews. This is a question many have asked, and many continue to ask in difficult and tragic situations. Interestingly, through another disaster he saw God’s hand, and his faith was renewed.


Defiance is such an interesting story, because it’s true. Like Schindler’s List, Defiance tells the courageous story of those who risked their lives to save others. It’s for these reasons that the special features on the DVD are so fascinating to watch. Besides the production notes and filming details, you get to meet the descendents of the Bielski brothers, their children and grandchildren. You hear their memories, bringing to life the real people who lived this story. You see pictures, not only of the Bielski’s, but also of others who were part of the village. They are the kind of features that complete the story, and really bring it to life.


This is definitely a DVD you’ll want to rent and watch with your older children. The cinematography is stunning, the music is beautiful, and the story is one that will spark conversation on many levels.


Let’s Talk About It

Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:


• If you were part of the Bielski village, what role would you have been able to play? How would you have been able to contribute?


• James 1: says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.” How did the Beilski Jews find joy? When have you experienced joy in the midst of a trial?


• Tell about a time when you saw God’s hand in a difficult circumstance. How did this effect your relationship with him?




Note: All movie-related graphics in this column are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective movie studios. 

Reprint an Article - Free