A the start of the movie we are told this is a true story. Edward Zwick is the director and he made the decision to sacrifice realism for action and character development. I am sure that this has made it more interesting and exciting to watch, for it is both of these things, but it is a Hollywood version of a true story.
Defiance is an apt title given that the movie depicts a large group of Jewish refugees surviving harsh winters in the forests of Belorussia, despite the attempts of the Nazis to annihilate them. Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell are all excellent as the brothers who led the group, and the story told is both gripping and inspiring.
It was nominated for an Academy Award for the best Original Score. The script is rough and the point of view fixed, this makes some of the characters seem a little two dimensional. However, in terms of action and tension, the film works well and it held my interest right to the closing credits.
Fatherland is a murder investigation/thriller. It is set in the run up to Adolf Hitler’s 75th birthday and imagines a world where the Nazis won the second world war.
It works very well as a police procedural that escalates. It is well written and the main characters are interesting. The plot twists keep the reader engaged nicely and the story is strong enough to work without the alternate reality theme.
Setting the book in a 1964 Nazi run Europe adds an extra dimension to the book. It is not overdone, it changes some peoples motivation and skews the world’s perspective. I found the change refreshing. The book contains some fictional characters and some fictionalised versions of real characters. He envisages many of those who died or disappeared towards the end of the war as still alive and powerful after Germany won.
Fatherland is well researched and some of the scenes in the book are harrowing but it is not gory or gratuitous in any way. It was a huge best seller when it was released almost 25 years ago. I think it has stood the test of time and is still a very enjoyable read.