GRAMMY-WINNING VIOLINIST JOSHUA BELL IS FEATURED SOLOIST ON JAMES NEWTON HOWARD'S ORIGINAL SCORE FOR THE FILM, DEFIANCE Starring Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell
Superstar Violinist Joshua Bell is the featured soloist in seven-time Oscar nominated Composer James Newton Howard's original score for Defiance, based on an extraordinary true story about three Jewish brothers who were responsible for saving over 1,200 Jews during WWII. Directed by Academy Award?-winning producer Edward Zwick (Blood Diamond), the film stars Daniel Craig (Casino Royale), Liev Schreiber (The Painted Veil) and Jamie Bell (Billy Elliott). Sony Classical releases the film's original soundtrack on Tuesday, December 9, 2008 and the Paramount Vantage film, Defiance opens in New York and Los Angeles on December 31, 2008 and nationwide on January 16, 2009.
Composer James Newton Howard created a stark and compelling score for Defiance in which he reunites with Zwick after working together on Blood Diamond. Howard and Zwick decided to recruit the dynamic, young violinist Joshua Bell to play the score's haunting, evocative solos, in tribute to the many lost artists of Europe. "I wanted to have a score that was not only appropriate historically but also emotionally appropriate," says Zwick. "The sound of the violin is central to Eastern European Jewish culture; it is the sound of what was lost. And so it became the centerpiece, with everything else embroidered around it."
Focusing on the musical versatility of the violin was exciting for Howard. "The violin can express the complete range of human emotion. It can be joyful and jaunty or it can sound like it's moaning and crying. And it can express great longing and loss, which is so strong in this story," he says. I took a minimalist approach, with the score's melodies rooted in simple harmonies."
Howard especially enjoyed working with the renowned violinist, Joshua Bell, who played a similar role as the soloist for the Oscar?-winning The Red Violin. Says Bell: "I don't do a lot of film scores but this story was just so interesting. I come from a Jewish heritage – in fact my grandmother lived very close to where the story takes place – yet I was shocked that I'd never heard this story. It was eye-opening for me -- and when they sent me some of James Newton Howard's music, it was just so beautiful, I was delighted to be asked to take part in it."
Bell agrees that the violin seems to suit the characters of Defiance in their strength and passion. "The violin is so central to Jewish tradition in that part of Europe and it's also a sound that goes straight to the heart," he observes. "What James and I worked on was a balancing act to strike just the right tone, powerful but not melodramatic." Howard was moved by the way in which Bell did just that. "He's one of our great living violinists and I felt he took the score and made it a thousand times better," says the composer.
Based on an extraordinary true story, Defiance is an epic tale of family, honor, vengeance and salvation in World War II. The year is 1941 and the Jews of Eastern Europe are being massacred by the thousands. Managing to escape certain death, three brothers take refuge in the dense surrounding woods they have known since childhood. There they begin their desperate battle against the Nazis. Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell star as brothers who turn a primitive struggle to survive into something far more consequential -a way to avenge the deaths of their loved ones by saving thousands of others.
At first it is all they can do to stay alive. But gradually, as whispers of their daring spreads, they begin to attract others – men and women, young and old – willing to risk everything for the sake of even a moment's freedom. Tuvia (Craig) is a reluctant leader and his decisions are challenged by his brother, Zus (Schreiber) who worries that Tuvia's idealistic plans will doom them all. Asael (Bell) is the youngest – caught between his brothers' fierce rivalry. As a brutal winter descends, they work to create a community, and to keep faith alive when all humanity appeared to be lost.
Currently, one of the most versatile and in-demand composers, James Newton Howard has received seven Oscar? nominations, four Grammy? nominations, an Emmy Award, two additional Emmy nominations, three Golden Globe nominations and has been honored with ASCAP's prestigious Henry Mancini Award for Lifetime Achievement. His most recent films include the critically acclaimed blockbuster The Dark Knight (with Hans Zimmer), the legal thriller Michael Clayton and the box office hit I Am Legend. To date, Howard has over 100 films to his credit. Among them are all of M. Night Shyamalan's films; five films for director Lawrence Kasdan; four Julia Roberts comedies including Pretty Woman and My Best Friend's Wedding and three animated films for Walt Disney Studios. Howard's other wide-ranging credits include The Fugitive, The Great Debaters, Blood Diamond, King Kong, Batman Begins, Peter Pan, Collateral, Outbreak, Primal Fear, Glengarry Glen Ross, and The Devil's Advocate among others.
An exclusive Sony Classical artist, Joshua Bell has captured the public's affection like no other classical violinist of his time. He came to national attention at the age of 14 in a highly acclaimed orchestral debut with Riccardo Muti and the Philadelphia Orchestra. A Carnegie Hall debut, the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant and a recording contract further confirmed his presence in the music world. Bell's 2008-09 season kicked off with the September world-wide highly praised Sony Classical release of Vivaldi: The Four Seasons recorded with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, his return to his alma mater – Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music as a senior lecturer, and the 10th anniversary DVD release of The Red Violin film featuring Bell on the Oscar?-winning soundtrack for Best Original Score.
Defiance is directed by Edward Zwick (Blood Diamond, Glory) from a screenplay by Zwick and Clay Frohman, based on Nechama Tec's non-fiction book of the same name. The producers are Zwick and Pieter Jan Brugge. The team recreating the forest haven includes two-time Oscar?-nominated cinematographer Eduardo Serra (Blood Diamond, Girl With A Pearl Earring), production designer Dan Weil (Blood Diamond, The Bourne Identity) and Oscar?-winning costume designer Jenny Beavan (Gosford Park, A Room With A View).