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Defiant Requiem

21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

DEFIANT REQUIEM tells the remarkable story of Rafael Sch chter, a brilliant young and passionate Czech opera-choral conductor who was arrested and sent to the concentration camp of Theresienstadt (Terez¡n) in 1941. Under the most brutal of circumstances, and determined to sustain dignity, humanity, and hope within his fellow prisoners, he recruited 150 prisoners and taught them Verdi's Requiem by rote in a dank cellar using a smuggled score, after grueling days of forced labor. They performed on 16 occasions for fellow prisoners, with the last, most infamous performance on June 23, 1944, in front of high-ranking SS officers from Berlin and the International Red Cross to support the charade that the prisoners were well treated and flourishing. The Nazi legacy of brutality is well established, but the Terez¡n legacy is virtually unknown. This documentary highlights how a rare form of courage, hope, and survival sparked an entirely unique method of fighting Nazi oppression, battling the worst of mankind with the best of mankind.

Review

A magnificent film that serves as witness to humankind at its worst and best, this is highly recommended. Editor s choice. --Video Librarian

Product Details

  • Actors: Bebe Neuwirth
  • Directors: Doug Shultz
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS (DIRECT)
  • DVD Release Date: July 23, 2013
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00C888K0E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #62,100 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Dmonroe on August 17, 2013
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Having seen many Holocaust docs over the years (like so many of us), along comes this INCREDIBLE story that I had never heard about before, and it is told quite beautifully here. "Defiant Requiem" is an amazing story of the Nazi concentration camp at Terezin, wherein many talented Czech artists were imprisoned - and it specifically tells the story of one Czech composer, Raphael Schächter, who's idea it was to lead a performance of Verdi's "Requiem" inside the camp. And it tells the parallel story of music conductor Murry Sidlin who decades later went back to Terezin specifically to perform "Requiem" again, quite beautifully, this time with survivors from the camp. I don't really have the words - let me just say this story was completely new to me and had a profound impact on me, particularly the incredible interviews with the survivors.

It's such a profound experience to be educated on something completely new relating to the Holocaust, and for the subject matter to be told with such depth and compassion, but also restraint. The story was sensational enough, the filmmakers wisely chose not to be manipulative (which would have been easy in this case) - they just told you and showed you this story with honesty, clarity and genuine beauty.... This is what true documentary filmmaking should always be like.

SEE this film, you won't regret it!!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Christine A. Henes on October 25, 2013
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This is a piece of history that seems little known. As a practicing music therapist, this confirms the work I do with music. It is a universal language, and whole brain activity that may assist people through the deepest trauma. "Defiant Requiem" is similar to "Road to Paradise" about the women's camps run by the Japanese, and the "orchestra" that one camp had of women's voices. Music welled up as strong medicine during these times. Requiem is very disturbing on the one hand, but demonstrates resolve and the fact that individuals who have everything taken away still have the choice of how they will act in response.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Joe Neustatl on December 11, 2013
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This is a rare evidence of human power and strength to resist oppression by Nazi invaders in a ghetto Terezin, where prisoners were held helpless and intimidated. They used the glorious music of Verdi's Requiem and latin language to disquise the harsh meaning of the words which predicted death and destruction to the murderers and oppressors. The mass was prepared by a professional musician who rehearsed the singing with ordinary prisoners under the harshest circumstances and conditions during WWII in a celar with just a broken piano. This is a document of human courage to fight even if there is no hope of achieving freedom. Most of the original participants were murdered during the war years.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tell Me A Story VINE VOICE on July 6, 2014
This documentary relays the bold move of Raphael Schächter, a Czech composer imprisoned in the Concentration Camp of Terezin. In order to give the other prisoners hope in the face of the unknown, he formed a chorus and along with trumpter and taught the prisoner's one of the most difficult Latin compositions, Verdi's "Requiem". "Requiem" is about the God's judgment and wrath which will come to oppressors. Using only one sheet of music to teach them, the prisoners would gather for several hours at night in a cold basement to learn each word and note, a tremendous undertaking. The few survivors that were either part of this choral group and those who escaped death while being held at Terezin give their impressions of the experience. It became for many their sole motivation to survive the horrid conditions and despair of constant hunger, separations and death of loved ones and friends.

Murry Sidlin, a brilliant conductor came up with the idea to commemorate this incredible act of sedition by forming a new choir along with an orchestra, which practiced for a year before traveling to Camp Terezin (now abandoned) and perform Verdi's Requiem as a Memorial to all the great composers from Czechoslovakia (then a cultural center for music in Europe) as well as all camp survivors and the originator Raphael Schächter.

Some of the participants in the new choir actually are the children of camp survivors (who are interviewed). Additionally, there were three original camp choral participants, who shared their memories of that time. A total of five survivor's participant in this riveting documentary.

This documentary was very moving, I teared up throughout the viewing. If you are looking to expand your understanding of the survival mentality, this is an awesome exploration.

I wish that the entire requiem would have been shown (at the very least as an optional supplement) to the documentary, since it was shown in pieces.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sonja Voss on February 5, 2014
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This film caught me up in all the horror of the death camps and the whole point that when there are not words to describe the happening around one, that music is the vehicle to express everything. It spurred me on to read Eichmann's Inferno Auschwitz.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Browstia on December 29, 2013
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An excellent movie, reconstructing the Terezin concentration camp experience, and the powerful artistic expression that came out of that living hell.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Meredith Neria on December 15, 2013
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A documentary about a well covered era, but the subject matter was not well known to me. The tenacity to live, to live up to one's purpose, to hold on to one's faith in spite of such oppression, darkness, hopelessness is amazing. To be able to inspire it in others is beyond amazing. I am so glad that conductor Murry Sidlin was possessed to bring about this awesome tribute to the people who lived through the events and to bring Conductor Rafael Schacter's life to our consciousness. His bold defiance in face of oppressors gave his fellow captives the courage to use their inner strength to stand up in dignity. Not only defying cruelty but proving to themselves and us that each and every human life is worth while and we should never forget.
The work is very well done, not clinical yet not maudlin. A work that we will watch many times.
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