Wednesday, October 2, 2013

No Place on Earth - A World Record Breaking Story of Survival

No Place on Earth was a Holocaust documentary like no other.  Brought to life by cave explorer Chris Nicola the film centers around five families and their amazing story of survival hiding underground from the Nazis during World War II.  Testimony from living survivors, just children and teens at the time, is masterfully combined with brilliant historical reenactment to bring their story to life.  Focusing primarily on the Stermer, Dodyk, and Wexler families the film begins with Nicola’s discovery of their camp perfectly preserved in a dark, muddy section of one of the largest cave systems in the world located in the Ukraine.  After stumbling across the site which contained children’s shoes, buttons, cups, and earthen tables and chairs carved into the very floor of the cave, Nicola was determined to uncover the story behind the dwelling.  Nearly ten years after first discovering the cave he was about to give up when he was contacted by the granddaughter of one of the living survivors.  From there the story takes off and we discover that these families, escaping persecution, lived continuously underground for nearly a year and a half, the longest recorded underground habitation by humans.  Through many instances of luck and an incredibly strong will to survive, the families band together and wait out the deadliest war in history concealed in complete darkness.  Over half a century later, the surviving members and their grandchildren travel back to the Ukraine with Nicola to once again visit the caves that saved their lives. Incredible and life affirming, the film is a departure from other Holocaust films as the story is entirely centered around the families with almost no focus on the Nazis or what is happening in the outside world.  A compelling and beautiful story, No Place on Earth shows us that even nearly 70 years after the end of the war, there are still remarkable tales of history yet to be unearthed. 

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