Defiance (2008)

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Released 2-Sep-2009

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Rating ?
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 131:08
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (72:11) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Edward Zwick
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Daniel Craig
Liev Schreiber
Jamie Bell
Alexa Davalos
George MacKay
Allan Corduner
Case ?
RPI ? Music James Newton Howard


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In)
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    It is very interesting to see a film about Jews in World War II Europe which is not directly a holocaust film. I understand that it is an important part of history which needs to be told, however, the saturation level for holocaust films has been reached, certainly for me personally. This film takes a look at a very different story about Jews In World War II, featuring as it does the true story of a partisan force, The Bielski Otriad, formed in the forests of Belorussia in 1941. There is an excellent summary of the history of the group at this link. The movie is quite true to the historical story. The screenplay is based on a non-fiction book, Defiance: The Bielski Partisans by Nechama Tec.

    In 1941, the Bielski family were living in Belorussia. The family were farmers, millers and engaged in various other forms of business. When the Germans captured this area during 1941 they set about destroying villages and killing people especially Jews. The Bielski's village was attacked and the Bielski family lost its father, mother and some children. Three surviving brothers, Tuvia (Daniel Craig), Zus (Liev Schreiber) and Asael (Jamie Bell) escape to the Lipiczanska Forest. Here they meet up with other refugees and decide to form a partisan group rather than just go and live in the ghettos as the Germans were demanding. Obviously, this initially seems like a much harder life however, in the long term it resulted in their survival. Despite their bond, the brothers disagree about the best way to approach their situation. Tuvia's first priority is to save the lives of as many Jews as possible and he accepts anyone into their group regardless of their ability to fight. He does, however, demand that everyone must work if they want to eat and live in the makeshift forest community. Zus on the other hand wants to take a much more direct and violent approach, focusing more on fighting the Germans and getting revenge. He makes contact with the various Russian Army militias in the area. Their life is harsh and they constantly need to get food and avoid getting caught by the Germans. This results in moving their camps on various occasions. They also try to help other Jews to escape the ghettos and join them. By the end of the war, 1200 people had joined the group and managed to survive the war.

    This film of what is certainly an interesting story, is certainly worth watching but cannot be described as completely successful. It was directed by Edward Zwick whose previous film Blood Diamond was a great blend of action and message. To my mind, this film is a little too long and lacks focus in the first half and then really picks up and becomes a very entertaining film after about 45 minutes. 10-15 minutes edited out of the first half would have made for a tighter and more focused movie experience. I understand that these scenes are true to the history but they do not necessarily add to the viewing experience. The cast perform well without being spectacular. Jamie Bell is probably the standout of the three main actors. Another possible reason for the first half of the film feeling long is that the locations used, despite being beautiful, are somewhat hard to distinguish from each other. Again this is true to the story but means the film lacks a little from a spectacle perspective. The score of the film by James Newton Howard was Oscar nominated. It is understated but of high quality, complementing the action well. Regardless of these criticisms the interesting story on offer plus quality filmmaking make this film worth watching.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is very good.

    The feature is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio which is the original aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced widescreen.

    The picture was quite clear and sharp throughout without being as crisp as the best modern transfers. Shadow detail was lacking somewhat at times which may be an issue with the source material rather than the transfer itself. There are some minor MPEG artefacts such as at 44:10 and 121:00.

    The colour was very good throughout although this is a film with predominant green and white colours of trees and snow.

    There were no other noticeable artefacts.

    There are subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired which were clear and easy to read. There are also burned in subtitles for non-English dialogue which are in a different and smaller font. The subtitles proved useful for some lines of dialogue

    There is a quite noticeable layer change at 72:11 which causes an obvious skip in the picture.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is very good but unspectacular.

    This DVDs contains three audio options, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s and an English Dolby Digital Audio Descriptive 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was mostly clear and easy to understand throughout, although some accents (natural or otherwise) caused some lines of dialogue to be a little hard to understand. The subtitles were useful.

    The music by James Newton Howard is understated but very effective adding excitement and tension.

    The surround speakers were used reasonably well although I felt the surround presence here was somewhat limited. There were sounds of rain and gunshots in the surround speakers.

    The subwoofer was used for explosions and action scenes.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The extras have run off to the forest to join the partisans.

Menu

    The menu features motion and music but is otherwise unspectacular.

Theatrical Trailer (2:15) 

    Quality trailer.

 

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 release has significantly more content as follows

    Clear win for Region 1. This film is also available on Blu-ray in Region A and locally.

Summary

    An interesting story but the film could have been a bit shorter.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good but unspectacular.

    Only a theatrical trailer in the extras basket.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS708H upscaling to 1080p, using HDMI output
DisplayLG Scarlet 42LG61YD 106cm Full HD LCD. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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