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Defiant Requiem

Bebe Neuwirth , Doug Shultz  |  NR |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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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.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS (DIRECT)
  • DVD Release Date: July 23, 2013
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00C888K0E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,143 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews


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

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.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Truly Incredible Film August 17, 2013
By Dmonroe
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Saw this on PBS and had to have it. 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a DVD for America 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE REQUIEM MASS OF TEREZIN. 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
5.0 out of 5 stars Moved to Tears 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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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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2.0 out of 5 stars The film was beautiful and based on some truth August 15, 2014
I have read and seen so much about the holocaust I am fairly critical. The film was beautiful and based on some truth, but what I missed was information about the concentration camp itself, how it was different from other camps. I know from my reading that it was the camp for the so called upper-class Jews. No effort was made in the film to establish that fact. For example, where did the orchestra get their instruments? How did they pay for them? How were their lives different from those of people in the other camps? By not giving us this information I think many viewers would think this camp was like the others except for this musical group, which is not true. The Jews there were almost hand-picked and treated much better. The film appeared "contrived" to me--untruthful. Definitely incomplete coverage of life in a concentration camp.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Courageous defiance July 14, 2014
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A great video for anyone who wants to understand the tremendous heroism of Jews in the concentration camps. They were defiant and courageous in hundreds of subtle ways, and perhaps the most powerful way was in the production of the Requiem Mass under the most difficult of circumstances.
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