Defiance: James Bond Saves the Jews

Will there be a special Academy Award for Best Aryan Costume Design this year? Everywhere you turn in the movies, it's swastika flags and SS uniforms. But where are all the Jewish victims? The nearest thing to a traditional Holocaust movie on the menu is Edward Zwick's Defiance, about three Jewish brothers who put together a Jewish kibbutz in a Belarus forest, the better to survive the war and knock off Nazis and their Russian collaborators. This fact-based story may look like a Holocaust movie—it has lots of extras running around in rags and hollow cheeks—but it's really an inquiry into the different management styles of the Yiddish superhero, no victim he. Daniel Craig, playing his second Jew after Munich with gimlet blue eyes ablaze with leadership potential, stars in the do-I-have-to? Gary Cooper role. Liev Schreiber at least looks the part as the belligerent bro who'd like to see a little less agonizing and a lot more payback. And Jamie Bell, an even more unlikely-looking member of the tribe, is the peacemaking youngest brother. While Craig rides around on a white horse, mulling whether to kill it for food, Schreiber splits off and joins the partisans for some real action, only to learn the hard way that Russians are not much keener on Jews than Germans are. There are subtitles and vaguely Eastern European accents; there is romance and rebirth, tears and regular pauses for gallows humor: "Eez khard to be friend of Jew," sighs a righteous Gentile. "Try being one!" the Jew in question snorts.

 
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