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Violence and Recoil

Reflecting on Defiance, I'm struck by the tension created in the movie, which wasn't great, but wasn't bad either, between those who relished violence and those who had to be pushed into it. Daniel Craig's character is the first to draw blood, avenging his parent's murder, but he "still sees their faces," meaning the men he shot at point-blank range. He found the taste of blood to be fetid, though this doesn't stop him from killing a challenger to his authority later. The youngest Bielski brothers are the ones who shy from violence even more. Only the second brother, played by Liev Schrieber, truly embraces that inner call to kill; even though he is killing those most acceptable of Hollywood "victims" Nazis the audience is meant to see that perhaps this isn't the way. In fact, there is a scene in the forest camp where the community of hiding Jews pummel a captured German soldier to death. They scream out the names of their murdered loved ones and they jam rifle butts into the head of the young father of two children.
This is one story where revenge is seen as distasteful, amazingly enough.


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