Daniel Craig in Defiance

Daniel Craig as Tuvia Bielski in Defiance (2008)

Daniel Craig as Tuvia Bielski in Defiance (2008)

Vitals

Daniel Craig as Tuvia Bielski, Polish resistance leader

Belarus, August 1941 through April 1942

Film: Defiance
Release Date: December 31, 2008
Director: Edward Zwick
Costume Designer: Jenny Beavan

Background

Daniel Craig’s fifth and final movie as James Bond, No Time to Die, was originally scheduled for release in the U.K. today. Last month, MGM and Eon Productions announced that they were pushing the release to November in response to concerns related to the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak. While the postponement may have defied the wishes of Bond fans (see where I’m going with this?), there’s still plenty of Craig’s filmography out there to stream, including the 2008 war film Defiance.

Based on the true exploits of a Polish resistance group during World War II, Defiance wastes no time in establishing the different personalities of the four Bielski Brothers: pragmatic Tuvia (Daniel Craig) who emerges as a natural leader, tough Zus (Liev Schrieber) who is always ready for a fight, sensitive Asael (Jamie Bell) for whom family unity is most important, and the quiet youngster Aron (George MacKay) who withdraws after witnessing the deaths of his parents and family at the hands of the brutal Nazi Einsatzgruppen. (In reality, Asael was older than he was portrayed and was also the first to take up arms as opposed to his more mild-mannered depiction in Defiance.)

Encountering other Jewish refugees and families in exile, the partisans work together to survive while arming themselves to fight for vengeance and defend their lives as they grow to more than 1,200 strong, organizing what would become known as the Bielski Otriad.

Director and co-screenwriter Edward Zwick and screenwriter Clayton Frohman were inspired by Nechama Tec’s 1993 book Defiance: The Bielski Partisans, adding more combat scenes including a climactic tank battle that differed from the reality of the survival-oriented group. While scenes like that may have been invented for the screen, much of Defiance was filmed on location in Lithuania, just across the Belarusian border and reportedly about 100 miles away from where the actual Bielski Otriad had camped.

What’d He Wear?

As we follow Tuvia Bielski for nearly a year in the forest, the Otriad leader would need to be dressed in layers rugged and reliable enough to protect him through months of rain, snow, dirt, and combat without the possibility of changing while also serving as relatively effective camouflage.

“In this film, the characters live with nothing, so their costumes have to show how they cope with that,” costume designer Jenny Beavan offered in a December 2008 Variety interview, where it was explained that her team created six of each of the main actors’ costumes for Defiance. “You have to have a certain amount done up front, but things evolve during the course of shooting because you become inspired by something, so we were still tweaking everything until it was just right.”

At least two of the leather jackets Beavan designed for Daniel Craig to wear as Tuvia Bielski were on display at the Heritage Museum & Gardens in Sandwich. Museum curator Jennifer Madden explained to 90.9 WBUR’s Erin Trahan that Beavan’s process included “aging” the jackets with dye and cheese graters to create the look of a garment that withstands constant battles with German troops, seasonal precipitation, and life in the woods.

Thanks to BAMF Style reader Simon, I learned that Stuart Belton made Craig’s screen-worn leather jackets in Defiance.

DEFIANCE

Tuvia’s brown leather jacket is styled like a classic car coat, hip-length and with a large enough fit to be worn over a lounge jacket. The coat has a large, point collar and a brass zipper that zips up from the waist, leaving a few inches of skirt below to aid Tuvia’s movements when he needs to move quickly. The zipper rises up to an inch shy of the top of the coat.

A horizontal yoke extends across the front and back, aligned toward the bottom of each armhole, with short pleats extending down from each of the back yokes for a touch of added mobility. An inch down from the front yoke, on each side of the chest, is a set-in pocket with a jetted opening and brass zip closure. There are also patch pockets lower on the hips with narrow straight flaps but no evident buttons, snaps, or zips to fasten. The set-in sleeves are reinforced at the ends with a seam that rings around each cuff under a rounded-end semi-strap that closes through a single mixed dark brown sew-through button.

Tuvia confers with his brother Zus.

Tuvia confers with his brother Zus.

There are many replicas offered for sale across the internet, though I’d place my faith in the screen-inspired tribute offered by Magnoli Clothiers in goatskin, lambskin, and cowhide, as well as a “pre-distressed” finish for the kind of patina one would see after months in the woods.

From the beginning of the movie, Tuvia wears a thick dark brown leather belt that serves as his de facto gun belt, typically worn over his outermost layer though he initially wears it over his jacket and under his leather coat when only armed with the French Charmelot-Delvigne revolver that he shoves into the belt. The thick belt has a large gunmetal double-prong buckle.

After obtaining an old French revolver from their neighbor, Tuvia wears it tucked into his belt, worn under his leather coat but over his lounge jacket.

After obtaining an old French revolver from their neighbor, Tuvia wears it tucked into his belt, worn under his leather coat but over his lounge jacket.

As the Bielski Otriad gets more tightly organized and better armed, Tuvia supplements his belt with a dark leather strap that crosses over his right shoulder like a Sam Browne rig, connecting onto his waist belt with wide leather loops. This narrower strap has a gold-toned single-prong buckle, contrasting with the dulled silver gunmetal buckle of his waist belt.

The addition of the diagonal cross strap gives Tuvia better support for adding a holster, magazine pouches, and a vertical knife sheath onto his belt. The German-issued black hardshell leather holster has a wide flap with a narrow strap that passes through through a metal loop to retain his Walther P38 in place as well as a forward-positioned slot for an extra magazine. Worn on the back left of his belt is a three-cell magazine pouch, made of “field gray” (feldgrau) canvas with black retention straps to carry three of the long, straight box magazines for his MP40.

Same belt, different day... and on this particular day, Tuvia has already supplemented his usual belt with a cross strap, holster, magazine pouch, and sheathed knife.

Same belt, different day… and on this particular day, Tuvia has already supplemented his usual belt with a cross strap, holster, magazine pouch, and sheathed knife.

Under his coat, Tuvia wears a fraying olive drab cotton unstructured jacket that’s styled and cut like a ventless, single-breasted lounge jacket with its notch lapels, three-button front, patch breast pocket, and hip pockets. Unlike a suit or sport jacket, the ends of the jacket’s sleeves are plain with no buttons or vents, and Tuvia frequently cuffs back the end of each sleeve.

The color and cut of Tuvia's jacket, as well as his habit of wearing all three buttons fastened, suggests a militaresque appearance apropos his role as commander of the Bielski Otriad, even if it isn't a true military garment.

The color and cut of Tuvia’s jacket, as well as his habit of wearing all three buttons fastened, suggests a militaresque appearance apropos his role as commander of the Bielski Otriad, even if it isn’t a true military garment.

Tuvia’s pullover shirt is slate-gray with tonal blue striping, made of a lightweight cotton that has taken to pilling over many months in hard service as the Otriad leader’s only shirt. The shirt’s set-in sleeves are shirred at the shoulders and fastened with button cuffs that he unbuttons and rolls up to his forearms when working around the camp.

The shirt four buttons widely spaced down the plain-front bib, worn with the lowest three buttons fastened and open at the neck, where the top of his pale ecru slubbed long-sleeve henley undershirt occasionally peeks through. The slate-gray pullover shirt has a soft point collar that becomes unpresentably wrinkled, though keeping a pressed collar is understandably among the highest of Tuvia Bielski’s priorities.

DEFIANCE

Tuvia spends his months in the woods wearing corduroy breeches, a smart choice for comfort and durability. The cloth is a fine gauge corduroy known as “pinwale” or “needlecord” (best observed in this closeup), colored in an olive gray cloth not unlike the drab “field gray” or feldgrau of the era’s German uniforms.

Tuvia’s high-rise breeches have single foward-facing pleats, side pockets, and an additional coin pocket on the right side, though there are no back pockets. In addition to a pointed-end “cinch-back” strap, these trousers are held up by a set of green, taupe, and burgundy striped suspenders (braces) with silver-toned adjusters and brown leather hooks that connect to buttons along the inside of the trouser waistband.

DEFIANCE

The bottoms of Tuvia’s breeches are tucked into plain black leather riding boots with hard leather soles. The calf-high shafts have straight openings around the top and are unadorned with straps or buckles, similar in style to the German-issued M1939 Marschstiefel (“marching boots”), infamously monikered “jackboots”, and the long leather boots worn by the Soviet Red Army.

MP40 in hand, Tuvia takes cover behind a tree while battling the Germans.

MP40 in hand, Tuvia takes cover behind a tree while battling the Germans.

As the weather grows cooler approaching winter, Tuvia dresses for a scouting mission in an olive military side cap and charcoal woolen scarf. Tuvia may have considered the possibility of encountering the Soviets during the mission as his khaki side cap is similar to the khaki pilotka summer cap issued by the Red Army, albeit without the distinctive Red Star badge that was pinned to the front. (These days, you can even find Soviet pilotkas on Amazon!)

DEFIANCE

The sidecap makes only this brief appearance around the time of the Bielski Otriad’s first encounter with the local Soviet troops, but Tuvia would continue wearing the charcoal scarf through winter.

Otherwise, Tuvia typically dresses his head in a dark olive tweed flat cap, similar to the Greek fisherman’s caps that had crept their way inland to become popular workwear, particularly among the Russian Jewish community as famously worn by Topol as Tevye the milkman in Fiddler on the Roof (1971).

Tuvia catches Lilka's eye through the falling snow during Asael's wedding.

Tuvia catches Lilka’s eye through the falling snow during Asael’s wedding.

As the snowy winter of December 1941 extends into 1942, Tuvia adds the additional layer of a light fawn-colored topcoat made of tattered wool with a piled fur-lined collar that Zus had initially liberated from a local farmer who collaborates with the Germans. Wearing it through most of the winter, Tuvia also lends it to Lilka (Alexa Davalos) with his Walther P38 for her first food mission; she returns it to him in time for him to use as a blanket as he recovers from his winter sickness, and subsequent scenes depict both Tuvia and Lilka sharing the coat until the spring.

The long coat has a high-fastening double-breasted front with two columns of five buttons each, fastening through a fly front that provides a clean appearance when the coat is buttoned. The wide collar is fur-lined, providing extra warmth and protection when the coat is buttoned and the collar turned up against Tuvia’s neck and face. The coat also has hand pockets and a short back belt with a button on each rounded end that suppresses the fit around the waist. The set-in sleeves have no buttons, straps, or buckles at the ends, only a seam that rings around the cuff about six inches back from the end of each sleeve. Tuvia also wears dark brown knitted fingerless gloves throughout the winter.

Bundled up against the cold winter.

Bundled up against the cold winter.

When the snow thaws and winter gives way to spring, Tuvia hangs up his heavier topcoat and opts for a long dark brown leather pilot’s flying jacket that extends below his knees, another piece similar to items worn by the Soviet Army that may subconsciously code him as an ally when he returns to their camp to request assistance.

The double-breasted coat has four rows of two buttons, with the top row at the neck spaced a little higher than the three rows on the chest, belt line, and hips. Tuvia wears the coat’s large point collar turned up, revealing a throat latch buttoned onto the right collar leaf that would ostensibly be fastened to the left leaf to close the coat over his neck if needed. The coat also has slanted hand pockets and raglan sleeves with plain cuffs.

Tuvia wears double-layered leather coats for his return to the snowy Soviet camp.

Tuvia wears double-layered leather coats for his return to the snowy Soviet camp.

With the arrival of spring, Tuvia has no need for his additional layers and abandons both topcoats as well as the heavy scarf, instead catching his sweat with a black-and-gray striped wool neckerchief that he wears under his shirt like a day cravat.

Tuvia faces the group's next obstacle to freedom.

Tuvia faces the group’s next obstacle to freedom.

Tuvia wears a vintage wristwatch with a sterling silver cushion case on a brown edge-stitched leather strap. The watch has a round tan radium dial with black-outlined Arabic numeral hour markers and a sub-section register at 6:00. My friend Aldous, an eagle-eyed pro with whom I often consult with on the subject of wristwatches, suggests that the watch was likely manufactured no later than the mid-1920s due to the design of its dial, luminous “cathedral” hands, and the fixed wire lugs that were increasingly less common after the advent of the now-ubiquitous spring bar.

DEFIANCE

Cushion-cased watches were widely popular around the world during this era, making identification of Craig’s screen-worn watch more difficult. Some on Quora and WatchUSeek have suggested that, as he would as James Bond and in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Daniel Craig wears an Omega, though of 1940s vintage to fit with the film’s timeframe, though I doubt these theories as the details of the watch don’t resemble any period Omegas I’m familiar with. Aldous pointed out to me that the quality of the metal does not suggest a higher-end watchmaker like Longines or Omega but rather a more run-of-the-mill Swiss watch like a Cyma.

In fact, I recommend tracking down vintage Cyma cushion-cased watches from the 1920s if you want to cop Daniel’s horological style from Defiance as there are quite a few on the market not unlike his screen-worn piece. (For example, this 1927-dated Cyma via Etsy.)

The Guns

“One pistol is nothing, we need rifles, machine guns,” observes Zus as the three oldest brothers formulate their first plan of vengeance. “Machine guns? What’s next, you’re gonna take on the whole German Army?” asks Tuvia, foreshadowing that—by the end of the story—that’s exactly what the brothers are prepared to do. But first, they’ll need that “one pistol.”

The handgun in question is actually a Chamelot-Delvigne Modèle 1873 revolver, designated the modèle 1873 in French military service. The MAS 1873 had already been relatively obsolete by World War II, though it had a reputation for reliability and remained in use in limited numbers by French service, namely among reserve units, police officers, and resistance fighters.

After the Franco-Prussian War resulted in a German victory, the French recognized a serious need to upgrade their weaponry. Belgian gunsmith J. Chamelot and French inventor Henri-Gustave Delvigne collaborated to develop what would become the first double-action revolver issued to the French Army. Per its designation, the Chamelot-Delvigne revolver was produced by the French state manufacturer Manufacture d’armes de Saint-Étienne (MAS) from 1873 until 1887. The Modèle 1873 with its bare metal finish was offered to non-commissioned officers while the newly developed Modèle 1874 “Revolver d’Officier” with its darker blued finish and fluted cylinder was issued to officers, though most French commissioned officers reportedly preferred swords to sidearms as personal defense weapons through World War I.

By that time, Chamelot-Delvigne revolver production had long ceased with more than 330,000 of the Army Modèle 1873 and 1874 revolvers produced as well as a slightly more powerful Navy model. The standard issue French sidearm had already been upgraded to the Modèle 1892 “Lebel” revolver, which fired the smaller 8mm French Ordinance round that, while smaller than the Modèle 1873’s 11mm round, was nearly equivalent in power.

Tuvia borrows his MAS 1873 from a neighbor, the sympathetic farmer Kościk (Jacek Korman), who only has four rounds of the revolver’s proprietary 11mm French Ordnance black powder ammunition. A rimmed cartridge measuring approximately 11×17 mm R, this round was relatively anemic for a weapon of its size, equivalent in velocity and power to the .32 ACP compact pistol round (an improvement over the earlier-issued ammunition, which was closer to the underpowered .25 ACP.) Still, it’s wielded to deadly effect in James Bond’s, er, Tuvia Bielski’s hands when he exacts vengeance on his parents’ deaths by executing the cruel Schutzmannschaft (Auxiliary Police) chief who was responsible for their deaths.

"Only four bullets," Tuvia explains to Zus, who responds: "Then we'll have to make them count."

“Only four bullets,” Tuvia explains to Zus, who responds: “Then we’ll have to make them count.”
Note Daniel Craig’s correct trigger finger discipline.

As the brothers gain access to better arms and ammunition, mostly of German or Russian issue, Tuvia has no further need for his underpowered and obsolete French revolver and begins carrying a Walther P38 as his preferred sidearm.

The Wehrmacht had adopted the P38 as its issued service pistol in 1940, two years after the first design had been completed and effectively replacing the iconic but aging Luger. The Walther P38 was innovative for its time as the first locked-breech pistol with a double-action trigger (similar to that on Walther’s blowback-action PPK), a necessity mandated by the P38’s more powerful 9x19mm ammunition. Despite some experimental or limited runs in other calibers, the 9x19mm Parabellum round was essentially standard for the P38, feeding from an eight-round box magazine. Although its locked breech was part of the initial P38 design, the Heer requested that this original design be modified from its hidden hammer to an external hammer, resulting in the two-year delay before production could get underway.

Germany produced Walther P38 pistols throughout the duration of the war, ending in 1945 after the Allied victory. A dozen years later, the West German Bundeswehr requested that the P38 re-enter production, which it did in June 1957. These postwar P38 pistols, and the P1 variant that began production in 1963, can be differentiated by their slightly lighter aluminum frames as opposed to the steel frames of WWII-production P38 pistols.

Tuvia doles out intra-camp punishment with his Walther P38.

Tuvia doles out intra-camp punishment with his Walther P38.

In addition to carrying a German service pistol, Tuvia keeps a captured German MP40 submachine gun as his primary assault weapon. Designated Maschinenpistole 40 in German military service, this submachine gun was often nicknamed the “Schmeisser” by Allied soldiers in reference to Hugo Schmeisser, the German weapons designer whose MP18 became the first submachine gun to be used in combat; however, Schmeisser had nothing to do with the direct development of the MP40, which had been designed by Heinrich Vollmer.

Fed from a 32-round, double-stack box magazine, the MP40 fired 9x19mm Parabellum ammunition at a rate of between 500 and 550 rounds per minute. The MP40 could only fire fully automatic with no options for single shots or a three-round burst as found on modern submachine guns, though this relatively low rate of fire (compared to the M1A1 Thompson firing up to 800 rounds per minute) allowed for steady shots in the hands of a skilled shooter.

More than one million MP40 submachine guns were produced at Erma Werke over the course of the war, primarily carried by infantrymen and paratroopers, the latter particularly benefiting from the weapon’s innovative front-folding stock. Unlike the Walther P38, MP40 production was not resumed after the war.

Daniel Craig correctly keeps his finger off the trigger and grips the MP40 by its handguard rather than by the magazine itself, often incorrectly depicted as a foregrip when, in fact, gripping the MP40's magazine while firing would frequently cause feeding malfunctions.

Daniel Craig correctly keeps his finger off the trigger and grips the MP40 by its handguard rather than by the magazine itself, often incorrectly depicted as a foregrip when, in fact, gripping the MP40’s magazine while firing would frequently cause feeding malfunctions.

During the climactic final battle, Tuvia overpowers a group fo German soldiers manning an MG34 machine gun and commandeers the weapon himself. This air-cooled machine gun, designated Maschinengewehr 34 in German service, predated World War II and was considered the first “general purpose” machine gun upon its introduction in 1934. The MG34 was another design from Heinrich Vollmer, the Württemberg-born weapons developer also responsible for the aforementioned MP40.

Chambered in the same rimless 7.92x57mm Mauser rifle round that had been fired by German service rifles for three decades, the recoil-operated MG34 was first issued to units in 1936, entering wider service in January 1939 as Germany prepared for war. With its high rate of fire, relative lightness, and versatility, the MG34 was a popular weapon across all German military branches and battlefronts. The complexity of its production led to the development of the cheaper and faster-firing MG42, though both machine guns remained in production and service through the war’s end.

Tuvia takes over the MG34.

Tuvia takes over the MG34.

What to Imbibe

The brothers Bielski generally limit most of their drinking toward the beginning of the movie, passing a bottle of Altenburger Schwarzgebrannter, a German herbal liqueur.

Zus hands Tuvia a bottle to drown his sorrows after an unpleasant task.

Zus hands Tuvia a bottle to drown his sorrows after an unpleasant task.

I’m not sure if this particular spirit would have been around during World War II as the Altenburger distillery site explains that the liquor factory itself didn’t open until 1948.

I’ll admit I was unfamiliar with this spirit before watching Defiance, but the Altenburger site provides additional context as well as this forum where a user describes it as “a bitter herb liqueur from Altenburg in Thuringia. One usually drinks one shot glass full after a rich meal.”

How to Get the Look

Daniel Craig as Tuvia Bielski in Defiance (2008). From a photo by Karen Ballard.

Daniel Craig as Tuvia Bielski in Defiance (2008). From a photo by Karen Ballard.

Even Daniel Craig himself seems to have taken some style inspiration from his costume as Tuvia Bielski, as observed by Eve Buckland for the Daily Mail.

  • Brown worn leather hip-length combat car coat with large point collar, waist-to-neck brass zip closure, horizontal front and back yoke, two  zip-closure jetted set-in chest pockets, two patch hip pockets (with flaps), and set-in sleeves with single-button straps
  • Olive cotton unstructured single-breasted 3-button jacket with patch breast pocket, hip pockets, plain cuffs, and ventless back
  • Slate-gray tonal striped lightweight cotton pullover shirt with point collar, four-button bib, and button cuffs
  • Green, taupe, and burgundy striped suspenders with silver-toned adjusters and brown leather connector hooks
  • Olive gray pinwale corduroy high-rise breeches with single forward-facing pleats, side pocket, right-side coin pocket, and cinch-back strap
  • Dark brown leather Sam Browne belt with dulled gunmetal double-prong buckle
    • Narrow dark brown leather cross strap (with gold-toned single-prong buckle)
    • Black leather Walther P38 belt holster with flap
    • Three-cell MP40 magazine pouches
    • Knife sheath
  • Black leather calf-high riding boots with hard leather soles
  • Dark olive tweed flat mariner’s cap
  • Charcoal woolen scarf
  • Vintage silver cushion-cased watch with tan dial (with Arabic numeral hour markers and 6:00 sub-dial) on brown edge-stitched leather strap

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Check out the movie.

The Quote

If we should die trying to live, then at least we die like human beings.

2 comments

  1. MarkG

    The bravest of the brave. And that goes for any civilians who took up arms against Axis forces in WWII. In fact, their treatment if they were unfortunate enough to be captured was so barbaric that the British SOE supplied partisans with suicide pills (L-pills) and got the Catholic Church to sanction their use. On a lighter note, the filmmakers did a fine job in recreating the clothes worn by these gallant men. The car coats indeed resemble those worn by European men in the 20’s/30’s. They would certainly need to layer up for a Polish winter, IMHO.

    Like

  2. jdreyfuss

    Given that they were Polish Jews I’m surprised they didn’t have a bottle of slivovitz with them. It’s a pomace brandy made from plums. Vile stuff, but it doesn’t take much to work.

    Like

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