January 9, 2009, - 1:09 pm

Questions for “Defiance” Movie Writer/Director

By Debbie Schlussel
Today, I have a phone interview with Ed Zwick, writer/director of “Defiance” and a number of other movies and TV shows. The interview focuses on “Defiance,” starring Daniel Craig. As I’ve noted on this site, it’s the story of the Bielski brothers, Jewish partisans who fought back against the Nazis and saved hundreds of Jews. They are true heroes, and the movie captures that.
The movie is also important because it betrays the myth that Jews willingly went to the ovens and didn’t try to fight back. The Bielskis and the Warsaw Ghetto uprising are the two most famous instances of many such efforts to stop Nazi evil. I’ve always said, Jews with guns are my favorite combo. Hate to quote America’s most well-known porn star (Paris Hilton), but “That’s Hot.” (Not sure why she gets ownership of that common phrase.)
I’ve not yet posted my review of the movie, which I’m barred from doing until the movie releases in Detroit. But I liked it a lot, and I’ve written about it here and, as a member of the Detroit Film Critics Society, I voted for it as one of the year’s best pictures, best ensembles, and Liev Schrieber as one of the year’s best supporting actors, as Zus Bielski. Zus’ son, Jay (who served in the IDF and is a New York doctor), commented on this site that the movie captured his father perfectly.


So, what questions would you suggest I ask Zwick? Please post ’em in the comments section. I’m reposting the trailer as a refresher.

One thing I plan to ask Zwick: Why do the Jews in Hollywood love portraying the bravery of Jews fighting tyranny 65 years ago, but can’t bring themselves to show the bravery of Jews fighting it in Israel today (and instead villainize them)?

21 Responses

Jews with guns is a great idea. The problem was that the Nazis (Y’Shm) enacted the most stringent gun controls when they got into power. Today’s anti 2nd amendment liberals and socialists learned well from their teachers.

Moishe on January 9, 2009 at 2:21 pm

Yours is a spot on question that needs to be answered by more folks then just Mr. Zwick … I look forward to seeing this film.
Jimmy Lewis
SCS, Michigan
Blog: http://rougerevival.blogspot.com/

Jimmy on January 9, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Kudos to Zwick for (presumably) being completely unashamed to show armed Jews defending themselves. Too many Jews in Hollywood have fetishized victimhood to an unhealthy degree.
I think it’s terribly sad that the Holocaust has become the only period in Jewish history that is fashionable or acceptable to make movies about. I am not minimizing the importance of the Shoah, but with 3,500 years of Jewish history to choose from, can’t someone make a movie (other than the execerable “Munich”) that portrays Jews sympathetically and yet doesn’t occur between 1939 and 1945???!!!

ibn Abu on January 9, 2009 at 2:48 pm

“Why do the Jews in Hollywood love portraying the bravery of Jews fighting tyranny 65 years ago, but can’t bring themselves to show the bravery of Jews fighting it in Israel today (and instead villainize them)?”
Posted by Debbie at January 9, 2009 01:09 PM
The answer is:
There are no Jews in Hollywood.
There are money seekers.
Movies that praise these days Jews don’t sell.
It’s not mainly a matter of ideology, it’s a matter of marketing.
You can’t sell “Jews movies” in the Arab world or even in some parts of Europe and Asia.
Have a Jew character changing his name to “Hussein Obama” and you can be like a Prophet in the lands of Muhammad.
My only question would be:
Why Hollywood Jews make movies that give a “dirty” image about America in the Muslim world, if they really care about marketing their movies over there?
And by “dirty” I mean: sex, drugs and violence, but especially sex.
On one hand, they like to side with the Muslims against Israel, yet on the other hand they make the Muslims hate them and consequently hate America.
Indeed, they are truly called “the Hollywood Idiots.”

Independent Conservative on January 9, 2009 at 2:59 pm

Why do the Jews in Hollywood love portraying the bravery of Jews fighting tyranny 65 years ago, but can’t bring themselves to show the bravery of Jews fighting it in Israel today (and instead villainize them)?
Brilliant question Debbie….but like government you will never get a straight answer

Steve on January 9, 2009 at 3:00 pm

When will Defiance be released?

arius on January 9, 2009 at 3:09 pm

Mr. Zwick, why does the world hate Jews? Why does the world hate a Jewish nation?

BlackFlagQ55 on January 9, 2009 at 3:17 pm

How about making a movie of one of Danel Silva’s Gabriel Allon thrillers. Or get Silva to write a new screenplay bringing Allon or another Israeli agent into an updated scenario which involves mucho jihadist butt kicking.

johndoe on January 9, 2009 at 3:20 pm

Jews are ashamed of power. They think weakness is a Jewish virtue. It isn’t and that’s where anti-Semites take advantage of Jews. Let’s face it: a good deal of contempt for Jews comes from their refusal to stand up for themselves. And even people who love Jews and Israel wonder why at times they are so servile. Its much easier to admire and love someone who is willing to be who they are and fight for what they believe in. “Defiance” represents the kind of Jew that is very badly needed today – more than ever!

NormanF on January 9, 2009 at 3:21 pm

There were of course incidents of Jews fighting back, and in very rare cases, groups of them fighting back. But we have far more cases like Babi Yar (sp?) where the Germans told jews to come to a street corner and 33,000 showed up to their doom. We have rabbis and many, many Jewish “leaders” telling people not to fight back, don’t cause trouble….
It is the same thing that we hear from Jews today. They tell us not to fight back and they are even more pissed at the people who do fight back than they are at the ones trying to kill them.

Smarty on January 9, 2009 at 3:49 pm

Question: Why is it so taboo in Hollywood to portray the modern Nazis, who are the Muslims–those who celebrate Jewish deaths and want to exterminate the entire country of Israel–as evil in Hollywood? When will we see more movies with Muslim villains?

Gabe on January 9, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Independent conservative asks: *Why Hollywood Jews make movies that give a “dirty” image about America in the Muslim world, if they really care about marketing their movies over there?
And by “dirty” I mean: sex, drugs and violence, but especially sex.
On one hand, they like to side with the Muslims against Israel, yet on the other hand they make the Muslims hate them and consequently hate America.
Indeed, they are truly called “the Hollywood Idiots.”*
That is a great question, and I have wondered the same thing. If they are liberal in Hollywood under the pretense that America needs to change its image abroad, then why are they making filthy, shallow movies that portray the worst of American society? When I lived in Asia, I would be so embarrassed for our country when I would be in the movie theater and they would show previews for these type of movies.

Gabe on January 9, 2009 at 4:20 pm

where are the Bielsky’s in Fort Lauderdale?

kirk on January 9, 2009 at 4:32 pm

I am quite mystified by what is happening today. I
never thought that it would be “unpopular” to be
Jewish in America. I remember the days when it was
all the rage ! Remember Exodus ( not just the movie but the book and the wonderful theme song
were big big hits in the 60’s !) There were also
several good movies on the Nazi era – Sophie’s
Choice, the ODESSA File and Schindler’s List ! As
a non-Jewish refugee from Russian Communism I could never understand why Hollywood never told
our story. After all, Stalin claimed millions more victims than Hitler ! How many movies do you
recall on that subject ??? Zip – Nada ! But today
not only Stalin’s victims are forgotten but the
victims of Hitler have been turned into Jewish
Nazis by the likes of Rosie ! And the real neo-Nazis, the Muslims, into long suffering innocents. It is truly remarkable !

Hawkins on January 9, 2009 at 5:58 pm

This film has had it’s release date changed several times, I marked my calendar for each update (last notation placed for January 16th is no longer valid) IMbD states “Defiance” had limited release December 30th in the US and is not playing in any zip code I plug in (CA, NY, FL, AR) for showtimes. It would be very upsetting if this film is not widely released for (what I suspect are)political reasons.
Additional trailer & additional interactive features at UK website for “Defiance” http://www.defiancemovie.co.uk/
There were four brothers in the beginning according to the book “The Bielski Brothers” upon which this movie is based. From the UK website:
“In the summer of 1944, the villagers and peasant folk of what is now Belarus came stumbling out of their homes, eyes wide with excitement as they marvelled at their liberators, the Red Army, whose heavy divisions now rattled through the countryside, rolling stubbornly west towards Germany. A few days later one particular group of villagers-who eked out an existence on the lip of the Naliboki Forest, just west of Minsk-came tumbling from their homes to marvel at yet another astonishing sight. And this, by all accounts, was even more startling. From the forest verge, walking slowly towards them, came a kilometre-long crocodile of people, a procession of more than a thousand Jews, who, for the past three years, had survived by hiding in the forest of wilderness.
Ôø?How have you survived?Ôø? asked a perplexed villager. Ôø?Are you ghosts?Ôø? enquired another.
In some ways they were. During the course of HitlerÔø?s occupation, this community had moved as shadows, gliding through the hushed forests of Belarus, barely seen, their own lives in limbo as they hunted the invaders, recruiting their brethren from the nightmare of the ghettos. These were the men, women and children of the Bielski Otriad, a group of partisans formed in 1941 by Tuvia Bielski and his three brothers, a peasant family from the Belarusian village of Stankievich, who by the time of the SovietsÔø? victorious advance, had rescued 1,200 of their people-more than Oskar Schindler-from death at the hands of the Third Reich.
At the WarÔø?s end, the members of the Otriad began to rebuild their lives, Tuvia moving to America, where he worked as a cab driver in New York until his death in 1987. He was held in high esteem among the Jewish community in Brooklyn, where he lived, and yet his story is seldom heard. All this is set to change. Six years after TuviaÔø?s death, Jewish sociologist Nechama Tec published the academic study Defiance: The Bielski Partisans, incorporating numerous first-hand accounts-including TuviaÔø?s which sought to remind the world of the BielskisÔø? remarkable feat. And three years after its publication, TecÔø?s book came to the attention of Zwick, the Oscar-winning director behind Legends Of The Fall. Glory, The Last Samurai and Blood Diamond.
By Will Lawrence, from Empire magazine, October 2008”

heroyalwhyness on January 9, 2009 at 10:09 pm

would you ever make a similar movie about jews hiding in russia in the 1980’s?

mindy1 on January 9, 2009 at 10:26 pm

The last time Zwick did a movie about jihad ‘The Siege’, he totally contaminated it with a view of what an US military administration would be like. Granted, this was in 1998, when Jihadi plots for over 10 years were just being put into operation, like the Embassy bombings. However, it’s been 10 years now, and the US military has run administrations in Bagram and Baghdad, thereby debunking that part of the movie’s theme.
Therefore, when you do meet Zwick, can you ask him to, in his next movie on the subject, show Muslims exclusively as the villains, and not dilute that message with other corrupt villainous entities, be it in the FBI, CIA, Mossad or whatever else? People need to know that Muslims are the #1 enemy, and such sub-plots only serve to distract from that message, if not undermine it altogether.
Exit answer: Reason Hollywood Jews love portraying resistance against Nazis, but not Mohammedans is that the Nazis were white, while the overwhelming number of Mohammedans are brown, or at least non-White. As a result, in the eyes of such PC infested artists, Jews resisting jihad would be as bad as Serbs, Russians, Americans, Brits, etc resisting Jihad, whereas vs the Nazis, the Jews were resisting White racism, and therefore heros. [Of course, it would surprise them that the Nazis are the role models of the Jihadis today, despite (or even because of) being such White racists, because they had such a comprehensive program for doing what the Qur’an asks Mohammedans to do]

Infidel Pride on January 9, 2009 at 11:20 pm

Infidel Pride: I like everything in your post. You really hit it on the head on why Hollywood does what it does.

arius on January 10, 2009 at 2:59 pm

Ask him why conservative thinkers in hollyweird don’t band together more (like they tried to with “An American Carol”). How many others does he encounter who might like to tell these types of stories, or even more pro-America stories, but won’t or can’t because of the liberal control of Hollywood; and in this case, self-loathing and self-hating jews.
In 1991 or so, the NYT did a piece about conservatives in Hollywood. All who participated did so anonymously, for obvious reasons. Many admitted to supporting liberal causes they didn’t believe in, just so they could continue to work, for fear of being blackballed if they spoke out about their true feelings.

verbatim on January 10, 2009 at 6:49 pm

Hi Debbie, I have posted a comment about “Defiance” movie in Big Hollywood Blog under you short article about it but maybe you didn’t have a chance to read it. So i let myself to post similar comment here.
I am aware that for some of you, what you will read in this post might blow your mind and you will simply refuse to believe in it. So don’t take my words for granted.
Do your own research and find out for yourself
what was really going on in “Jerusalem” camp and what Bielski’s boys were doing during WW2. But instead reading only Jews sources try to look in German files, Polish files and Soviets files as well.
Please don’t missunderstand me. I know history of Jews in II World War a bit. I know about their truly HEROIC fight in Jewish Upraising in ghetto in Warsaw in 1943(do not mistake it with Warsaw Upraising done by Polish Home Army in 1944) and I admire them for that. But the reason for writing this post is my awarness that most of you guys are not familiar with very delicate and complicated history of Poland, Ukraine and other Easter Europeans countries during WW2. So I hope that you will be open to hear some real facts about Bielski’s brothers.
So let’s put some facts on the table.
1. There were actually 4 Bielski’s brothers: Tewje (Tuvia), Asael, Zus and Aron. Youngest of them -Aron Bielski (he changed his surname to Bell from 1951) together with his wife Henryka Bell is currently charged of kidnapping 93 yers old polish lady Janina Zaniewska living in Florida and stealing from her about $250 000
(for more details look here:
http://www.int.iol.co.za/index.php?from=rss_World&set_id=1&click_id=3&art_id=nw20071121084723893C775798 )
2. Bielski’s Brothers were operated in Naliboki Forest between 1942-1944 (before WW2 it was Polish-Russian border) and there were 2 “family camps” organized by Jews. First one: “Jerosolima” (950 people included lots of women and children) were runs by Bielski’s Brothers and has about 162 armed peple. Second one (560 people, mostly Jews escaped from ghettos) was commanded by Simcha Zorin and had 73 armed people. The main goal for this family camps was not to fight with Germans but to survive the war.
3. Polish civilians living near Naliboki Forrest were regularly raided for food confiscations by Germans, Soviets, ordinary robbers and also by Bielski’s and Zarin’s partisans, and as reported by Polish Home Army (PHA) to HQ – Bielski’s and Zarin’s partisans were most cruel from all. Civilians were complaining to PHA that Bielecki’s and Zorin’s partisans were constantly abusing them, raping women and sometimes children and threaten that if they don’t give them food and animals Soviets will burn them to the ground ( Soviets were controlled in military sense Jews family camps). So PHA has requested from Soviets to stop sending Bielecki’s people for food confiscation .
4. According to Jozef Marchwinski, polish communist who married Jews girl named Ester living in “Jerosolima” camp and Tuvia’s assistance for some time: “there were four of
Bielski’s brothers, strong and handsome lady-killers for women in family camps. They were quick to alcohol and girls but very slow to fight. The oldest one,Tuvia, were commanding not only all Jews in family camp, but also a beautifull and not small “harem” like king Saud in Saudi Arabia. In the camp, where Jews families very often were going to bed hungry, where mothers where tried to feed their babies with dry brests, begging for additional spoon of soup for them – in this camp another live was flourish, other rich world. In Bielecki’s dug-outs and their closest camarades, tables were heavy from food and drinks, and large bunch of beautiful women always encircles Tuvia and his 3 brothers.
Those women doesn’t know hunger and poorness. They were always beautifully dressed and full of expensive jewerly, and never used their delicate white hands for work”.
From Soviets reports: “Tuvia Bielski doesn’t engage in fight but he is speculate in units.
He was taking gold from his partisans to buy guns but instead of buying guns he kept gold
for himself.” Tuvia Bielski himself in his memories published in Palestine in 1947
emphasizes that his “Jerosolima”: “never antered in action with occupant”.
5. The Institute of National Remembrance in Poland is currently running an investigation
about pacification of Naliboki village done by Soviets and Bielski’s partisans and this is
qualified as a communist crime and crime against humanity ( 128 people were slaughtered ).
The villagers have a really bad luck. Naliboki village was excactly on route for Bielski’s
men heading to the Naliboki Forest and for Soviets units coming back from the forest.
Many times food and animals were confiscated from them, women were raped and some men killed.
So at some point when villagers saw them coming they ring church bells to warn other villages
and men organized self-defence to protect their households. That annoyed Bielski’s very much, but Soviets even more (one of Soviets partisans commander were killed when attempting to confiscate food). So in 8 of may 1943 at 5am, together (Soviet’s and Bielski’s boys) surrounded the village and within 2 hours they sloughtered 128 people, mostly when sleeping in beds.
These are just handfull of information about real history of Bielski’s brothers. And I hope you will
spend a minute to think about them. Their history it’s not so cristal clear like some people wants. They saved many Jews over there and no one will take that from them but the way they’ve done that is far from being heroic fighters… They do almost no fight with Germans, 90 percent of their time they spent sitting in the camp or “organizing” food (means robbery and confiscations) which affects badly civilians living in the area. I wish they story was as pure, as beauty as they present it in the film but that simply is not true.
It is interesting that it is very hard to find any evidence about their fight with Germans in sources other than Jews’s ones (Soviets or Polish for instance). I presume that Germans also have reported somewhere loses of “hundreds” of their soldiers in fights with Bielski’s boys and we can find some documents to proof that.
Jews can be proud of what they achieved in country Israel. How brave they were and are defending it from Muslims. And they have real evidence for that. They should be making movies about this period (ie 6 Days War and other brilliant military actions) but during WW2 there is almost no evidence that Jews alone (not as a members of Polish Home Army or Polish Resistance or resistance movements in other countries) were actively fight back Germans. Jewish Ghetto Uprising in 1943 was probably their biggest battle with Germans during WW2.
I have great respect for everyone who during those cruel times resist Germans by any possible way but we should be telling stories and making movies about real events. Because only then those stories will survive the test of time and will be immortal for next generations.

Stephen on January 11, 2009 at 8:49 pm

Watch my video interview with Mr. Zwick for a good clue as to the underlying message he built into “Defiance.”

DemoCast on January 12, 2009 at 6:54 pm

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