When 5-year-old Sima Dodyk emerged from the cave where she spent almost 2 years, she cried to her mother to “turn off the candle.” So foreign was the blinding sun, she favored the dark.
In the 2012 documentary No Place on Earth, we hear from Sima and 4 of her relatives who, with 33 others, evaded death and deportation by hiding in caves beneath snow-covered Ukrainian fields. They are remarkable not only for their unique story of survival, but also for being the longest uninterrupted cave dwellers in recorded history.
The film sheds light on what “Holocaust” can mean from one of the planet’s darkest spots. The narrative unfolds through testimony and the occasionally cheesy reenactment—but how else to captivate viewers when telling the story of a family who spent 18-20 hours a day sleeping?
Freshly interpreting themes of darkness and light—familiar in Holocaust representation—No Place on Earth portrays joy in the murky caves and anguish in the sunshine. Joy, surprisingly, is the viewer’s feeling at the film’s close: a surprising outcome from a story mired in tragedy.
Watch on Netflix and on Amazon Instant.
May 22, 2013