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House of Life

4.1 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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(Mar 24, 2009)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This solemn yet joyous documentary tells the story of The Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague, the site of layer upon layer of buried members of the once-vibrant Jewish community. Almost a million people from all over the world now visit the cemetery each year, and House of Life chronicles its history, which is rich in lore, mysticism, tradition and philosophy.

Tales of great rabbis and philanthropists and the story of the giant golem, created from clay to protect the Jewish people, are narrated by Claire Bloom. The 12,000 stones may be covering as many as 100,000 members of Prague's historic Jewish community. Under the German occupation in World War II, the cemetery was the only place where Jewish children were allowed to play. Later, under the communists, lovers met there for trysts. The cemetery--and film-- serve as a powerful reminder of the indomitable spirit of a people compelled to honor their past and preserve the lessons of history.

Review

This poignant evocation moves the viewer to appreciate a very special memory - that of ancient stones. --Elie Wiesel, Nobel Laureate and Author of NIGHT

Solemn yet joyous...a reminder of the indomitable spirit of a people compelled to honor their past and preserve the lessons of history. --Michael Schenkler, Queens Press

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Claire Bloom
  • Directors: Mark Podwal, Allan Miller
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: FIRST RUN FEATURES
  • DVD Release Date: March 24, 2009
  • Run Time: 52 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001NJ915M
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #240,092 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
A VERY solemn and informative video of the Jewish cemetery in Prague, CZ. Even when this history goes far back to the 1500's, the Holocaust is also included and how the Jewish people managed to experice life during this great tragedy to their people. Restoration and solumn feelings still exist today even when Tourism insists on viewing these stones in a very historic atmosphere. Excellent video on the history and interviews with people who did manage to survive and as they try to improve their lives because of it. If you really are history buffs, this film is helpful in adding this to your repetoire. Death certainly is part of life.
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Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
I've been watching many Prime documentaries on the Holocaust this last week, and when I saw HOUSE OF LIFE offered as a Prime watch, I decided to view it, especially since it was focused on the Prague Jewish cemetery. I was keen to find out if this cemetery was affected by the events of the Holocaust. To my pleasant surprise, I learned more than I expected.

The Prague Jewish cemetery has tombstones dating back to the 1400s, and was used primarily by the residents of the old Jewish ghetto back in the 15th and 16th centuries (in 1787, all burials within the city were banned for sanitary reasons). I learned that one of the most prominent tombstones in the cemetery is that of the Maharal of Prague, the Rabbi Judah Loew, who was a renowned rabbi and learned personage, admired by many, including Gentiles. The tombstones also reflect designs of various historical periods, including the Renaissance and Baroque periods.

It is heartening to know that despite the tragic events of the Holocaust that saw the decimation of a large percentage of European Jews (miraculously, the Nazis did not destroy this cemetery), there are still people, both Jews and Gentiles alike, who are dedicating efforts to preserve the culture and history of the Jews of Prague. There are restoration efforts underway to restore some of the much older tombstones so that the inscriptions can be read in entirety. As one person says on the documentary, these tombstones are an "incredible source of forgotten poetry."

I am not Jewish, but as a person who loves history and learning about the traditions of other cultures, I enjoyed this production very much and will probably watch it again. There's a sense of serenity about this old Jewish cemetery, with its lopsided tombstones among the more erect and majestic ones, almost enticing one to uncover the mysteries and histories of the long-deceased occupants.
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Format: Amazon Video
I love old cemeteries, but this one in Prague, Czech Republic, is the most unusual one I've heard about. The availability of documentaries like this make having a Prime membership worthwhile for me, and it is definitely worth the cost to purchase if you don't have Prime. (Available on Amazon for purchase and elsewhere and on YouTube for rent as well--I must say that because I would hate for anyone with interest in the significance of old cemeteries to miss it. Lots of images of the cemetery online, as well.) This one-hour documentary is a delight, beautifully done. Sensitive, sad in places, as you'd expect from anything that touches on the tragedy of Jewish history, yes, but lightened up with sections that are almost fanciful in tone. It tells about the strange golem legend and the belief by some locals that the dead gather there at night to pray. Some current locals think it has magical properties. If you have any interest in the cultural or spiritual meaning of gravestone symbols and cemeteries, like to visit unusual places, or care about Jewish history and its fascinating symbolism and folklore, don't miss this one. Btw, it is in English, most of it, with subtitles. Not hard to follow at all. I'll watch again and again.
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Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
This film concerns the Jewish cemetery in Prague. It is explained by showing the history of the Jewish population who lived in Prague,centuries ago.Very moving.And of great interest to me because my ancestors lived in Bohemia,and some lived in Prague.The cemetery is on my bucket list.
The film is very well done,and provides a lot of history to those interested in the subject.
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I visited this cemetery many years ago, when it was free. It's really impressive and inspirational. The only I didn't like during my last visit, 4 years ago, is that now you have to buy a whole package, including things you may be not interested in. And it's not cheap. But it's understandable that it is a private and do not receive help from the government. One wonders why is that...
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We visited this site last year on our trip to Prague. The film covers the history of the Jewish quarter there. Very interesting.
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By JohnNDFW on October 7, 2015
Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
I've always been fascinated by Jewish culture and Eastern European nations and WWII. This had it all. I was very moved at the efforts of restoring these true pieces of art.
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