Defiance is an odd movie. Not the story itself, which is a remarkable true tale of the rough-edged Bielski brothers who led a troupe of Jews into the forests of Belorus in the early years of World War II, and survived there, against the odds, in the face of hunger, exposure, sickness, Communist partisans and Nazi military might. It’s odd only in the telling, which is sort of stumbling – part History Channel documentary (gotta cram it all in), part Dirty Dozen – sort of Yentl meets The Inglourious Basterds.

So while Daniel Craig looks consistently craggy and pissed off throughout (even unwashed and tubercular), you otherwise never quite know what you’re supposed to be watching and the narrative is never really given enough reign to run out in one particular direction or another. I liked it, don’t get me wrong – a story like this about how close we all came to the abyss needs to be seen. It’s just that I had a nagging suspicion it could have been so much more.

Anyway, from a locations point of view, the movie shot in Lithuania – just across the border from Belarus, and indeed, so close to the original action that many of the extras were survivors from the Bielski camp in the woods. Although Lithuania’s been used before (remember the HBO mini series on Elizabeth I with Helen Mirren?) this was the biggest injection of foreign cash yet seen, about $35 million.

Filming Locations, Movie Reviews