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Honor and Integrity in War!
on September 9, 2009
I would classify this movie as blockbuster material, more for what it attempts to say about how human nature copes with adversity than how it says it. The film covers the wartime adventures of a Polish-Jewish family, the Bielskis, as it rallies a group of Jews in the southeastern mountainous part of the country against the Nazi occupiers. There are a number of obstacles facing the brothers as they doggedly lead their little band of terrified Jews made up of escapees from the ghettos: infighting, intimidation, treachery, anti-semitism and limited resources all threaten to do them in at various times in the story. For the first two years of the movement, the chief problem centers on the diverging views of the two older brothers who are leading the movement: one wants to embark on a campaign of retribution while the other wants to build a zionistic organization that stresses cooperation and peaceful co-existence. While these internal conflicts are eventually resolved, they take a terrible toll on the structure of the community on the run. Life for these fledgling Jews is one of constantly being alert to very real danger around their encampments. The main attraction of this dramatization is this very palpable tension and fear mixed with hope that seem to drive the film to a very powerful climax. It is only through this very tangible playing out of anxiety in the story does the viewer get to appreciate its defining moments of deliverance. Daniel Craig plays a superb role as one of the brothers in providing both resolute and intelligent leadership to an often disorganized and unappreciative band of rag-tag Jews lost in their own despair. It is no coincidence that this story is meant to mirror the ancient exodus from Egypt, with the two brothers representing Aaron and Moses. Overall, a worthwhile watch for the fact that its draws from both modern and ancient times.