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Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa (2008)

Dreadie Jeff , Mama Phyllis , Jeremy Stulberg , Randy Stulberg  |  NR |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Dreadie Jeff, Mama Phyllis, Dean Maher
  • Directors: Jeremy Stulberg, Randy Stulberg
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Indiepix
  • DVD Release Date: May 5, 2008
  • Run Time: 64 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00189CZMI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #236,503 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews


An insightful study of an alternative American lifestyle; The Stulbergs, whose film's stunning look is a combination of good cinematography and a majestic New Mexican landscape, achieved marvelous access to what has to be a very closed and insular community, given where and how the inhabitants choose to live. The various characters come to vivid life. --John Anderson, Variety

This doc's co-directors, brother and sister, have wandered upon a terrific subject: 16 square miles of New Mexico desert that's home to a ragtag group of anarchists who wouldn't be out of place in Mad Max. --Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out NY

Product Description

Twenty-Five miles from town, a million miles from mainstream society, a loose-knit community of eco-pioneers, teenage runaways, war veterans and drop-outs, live on the fringe and off the grid, struggling to survive with little food, less water and no electricity, as they cling to their unique vision of the American dream...

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
The Mesa is a desolate area of 15 square miles in New Mexico where around 400 people are joined together in a loosely knit community that tries to live "off the grid" of modern conviences, paid work and legal restrictions.

As someone who came of age in the counter-culture of the late 1980's, some of the Mesa residents reminded me of the sort of middle age hippies I met at Rainbow Gatherings. However, the Mesa also includes a large number of military vets and others drawn to guns and aggresssive behavior. What brings these folks together is a committment to "roughing it" in order to live outsides the rules and requirements of mainstream society.

Whether you view these people as well intentioned freedom seekers or dangerous crackpots really depends on your perspective. Personally, I found Mesa to include a little bit of both. For example, I really liked Stan, an older man who kept pigs and goats, apparently trying to live off the land the way his family had been doing for generations. He also seemed to be a very kind hearted fellow, willing to take in and mentor runaway teens who had nowhere else to go. There was also Mama Philips, a former psychiatric nurse dedicated to providing stability and emotional nurturing to her neighbors. On the other hand, Mesa did seem to have a large number of very troubled individuals. For instance, one of ex-military guys spoke of "eye for a eye" revenge killings as the best solution to community conflicts.

The subject matter is indeed interesting. But I give this doc 5 stars because of the high quality of film making. The cinematography was excellent, the scenes well edited and the whole package put together in a way that manintained my interest throughout. By the end, I really did care about these people and the community they live in.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Freedom's Just Another Word For Nothing Left to Lose February 18, 2010
Off the Grid is a great documentary about what it's really like to live on the land. There is a 15-square-mile tract in northern New Mexico known as The Mesa. Dropouts of all ages come from across the U.S. to live on The Mesa, where "roughing it" takes on a whole new meaning.

The Grid offers only a place to flop. (You have to build your own shelter). People have no electricity, no running water, and (almost) no rules. On the other hand, they can smoke dope, fire guns, and rant about the government all they like. Predictably, it is much easier to live without rules in theory than in practice; a few bad apples steal and the residents have to decide how to react. (They do NOT want to call the police).

The fascinating aspect of this film is the people who end up on The Mesa. The viewer wants to know why living with nothing is better than making a few sacrifices for an easier life. There are a few answers, although the reasons that people choose to live on The Mesa are varied. One particularly-memorable character is a young father who takes his small children out of school and brings them to The Mesa to live.

I enjoyed watching Off the Grid on my comfy sofa in my air-conditioned home. For something different, this film is great.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "You Can't Do That In Brooklyn" July 29, 2009
OFF THE GRID: LIFE ON THE MESA is an engaging documentary. It tells the story of a group of individuals who choose to live away from most of society in the Northern New Mexico desert. These people live in makeshift homes or vehicles with no electricity, little food and so little water that as one "mama" puts it they often eat off dirty dishes because they would rather have the water for drinking than washing. Aging hippies, teenage runaways, and ex military men many with emotional challenges seem to make up a large portion of the population. There are children being raised there as well though one single father's four kids are returned to their mother in Connecticut during the course of the film. I appreciate that the filmmakers treat their subjects with dignity and let them tell the story with their own often articulate voices. The main conflict in the movie occurs when a group of vegan teenage runaways begin stealing from other residents they feel are hoarding food. We are told that this is resolved by a delegation of "mamas" visiting the teens but I would like to know more about how exactly this was resolved though the filmmakers were hampered by the teenagers' refusal to be filmed. Still, this is a well made film with a fascinating subject
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great April 13, 2013
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A must watch documentary. It has been passed around and all have enjoyed it. You'll find yourself making movie quotes!
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