|Alice Sommer Herz||Participant|
Alice Sommer-Herz survived unspeakable atrocities in her fourties -- including incarceration with her six-year-old son in the Theresienstadt concentration camp of Nazi Germany. She also held court (before, during, and after her imprisonment) as a brilliant classical pianist -- a skill that by all accounts helped her escape death. Given her unusual capacity to love and forgive those who wronged her -- even the Nazi guards and concentration camp commandants who brought her face to face with some of the direst evil the world has ever known -- Sommer-Herz sustains a reputation as one of the most remarkable women of any era. At the time of this biographical documentary's production, Sommer-Herz had reached her 106th birthday; she honors that occasion with onscreen reflections about what she has learned, including distinguishing between what is and is not important in life, grasping the importance or learning and growing, and retaining a sense of gratefulness for life's gifts.
When some of the footage for this film was recorded, Alice Sommer Herz was 98 years of age - and still possessed of her faculties and memories. And she still has the ability to play piano! Alice has had a more than eventful life. She was imprisoned, along with her six-year old son, in the Theresienstadt concentration camp, and gave numerous concerts there. Her recollections are quite vivid, and viewed through the lens of a long life. She has witnessed things no human being should ever see, and talks about being sustained by music and the ability to play. She seems remarkably free of negativity. She is a very well-balanced optimist. The film definitely communicates the quality of individual that she is. There are several excerpts of her playing the piano, her aged hands caressing the keys and playing music of Smetana and Beethoven -- and it is wonderful to see and hear. And her stories are worthy of being heard. It is difficult to describe how uplifting it is to watch this film. When I first got this DVD, I must admit I had a slight sense of trepidation, not being exactly sure what state Alice would be in during the film. But it is without a doubt worthy of spending time with. Would that there were more people like Alice to interact with. Get this and share it with close friends. They will thank you for it.