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No Place on Earth [Blu-ray]
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In October of 1942, Esther Stermer and her various immediate and distant family members were forced to enter caves outside of their city in order to avoid the Nazis. They were joined by many other families and eventually caught, but were able to escape before being sent away for good. They then found another cave which had never been discovered, and it had its own water supply to help decrease any need to leave shelter. The women and children lived in the cave for nearly a year and a half, which is the longest recorded uninterrupted underground survival period. The men would leave their hiding place only to seek out food, much of which needed to be stolen discretely.
The story is discovered by amateur cave explorer Chris Nicola comes across some of their belongings in the first cave and decides to investigate. Much of the film is told through interviews, however, and then the last section of the movie is dedicated to the survivors who are able to return and see the caves this many years later. One gentleman in his 90s brings his grand-daughter to see the caves that he survived in, making for a moving revelation about the generations of family members who are alive because of the bravely of those few.
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In 1942, the situation for Jews in Ukraine was dire as the Nazis and local collaborators rounded up Jews for deportation to the labor and extermination camps. Many Jews were also rounded up by the Ukrainian police and shot. Esther decided that the family would hide in some caves, but these caves were known to the locals, and the Nazis and Ukrainian police found them and arrested them. However, with a combination of good luck and determination, the family survives and manages to escape once again, and this time they make their way to a cave that is not known to others. Not only do they find refuge here, they are also lucky to have running water which makes it convenient for them as they don't have to leave the caves as often, unless to find food. In all, 38 people from two Jewish families, the Stermers and Wexlers, survived the war in the caves.
The surviving members of the family recount what it was like at the time, with tales of near-misses and periods of living in uncertainty, but the story is one of survival and eventual triumph over adversity. During a time when millions of Jews were slaughtered, this tale of courage, resilience, and survival is one that gladdens the heart. I especially enjoyed the scene where some of the surviving members, the oldest aged 91, visit the Ukraine to revisit scenes of their past, including the caves, accompanied by their grandchildren. Truly a memorable docu-drama.
No Place On Earth is a somewhat interesting film although the low-budget constraints don't do justice to the incredible story. Also, survivor Saul Stermer's plentiful testimony is maddeningly indecipherable. Subtitles should have been provided. Interested viewers may also want to check out Agnieszka Holland's "In Darkness" (2011), a 5.5 million dollar release which depicts a true-life story of Jews surviving the Holocaust while hiding in the sewers of Lwow, Poland. In Darkness was nominated for the 2012 Best Foreign Film Oscar.
This is an exellent docu/drama. It tells the true story of Jewish families that with thier strong will, self reliance and innovation were able to survive long term living underground in two caves to evade persecution by the Nazi occupiers in the Ukraine.
This isn't some hollywood sensationalized story of a thrill seeker that just made an accident.
These people were fighting for thier lives from the start. They did not go underground for any other reason than thier basic need to survive.
This movie was good from start to finish. I like the duel formats. The movie starts out as just a documentary, but then evolves into some dramatizations, with narration from the real survivors of this "adventure" for lack of a better word.
The movie has a great ending, and some enlightment about how our neighbors can act in the real world. I also liked how those indomitable people were able to pass on some perspective to thier grandkids.
On another note, it is good to see another side of the Jewish people of that time, which is a group of strong, smart, and self reliant people that beat the Germans. Instead of just the countless hapless victims that had no hope or way of protecting themselves from an overwhelming wave of only what I can describe as "evil"
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was an amazing movie! My family and I had the honor of seeing this movie in the theater with the Stermer family and it was an experience we will never forget. Read morePublished 5 months ago by le
A very important piece in history. Cavers and spelunker should love it.Published 5 months ago by melliebellie
Chris Nicola presented during a Holocaust Memorial. This is truly a remarkable story of family, dedication and faith.Published 8 months ago by Loretta R. Baran