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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > People > Living > Poverty > World > Special Interest > Elsewhere (2001/Nikolaus Geyrhalter/Icarus DVD Set)

Elsewhere (2001/Nikolaus Geyrhalter/Icarus DVD Set)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Main Program: B+



In a remarkable multi-part work, Nikolaus Geyrhalter visited some of the most remote places in the world to see how people literally survive at the edges of the world in his 4-hour opus Elsewhere (2001), visiting people living in places you may have heard of and likely have never seen, including in parts of popular locales.  It can be hard to watch because so many of these people have so little and often have what you might call simple lives, while it reminded me of the grim, sad portrait of homelessness Dark Days (reviewed elsewhere on this site) in creating the senses of dread of people who could have more and be happier if they had better opportunities and better situations stuck never realizing them or even knowing they are possible.


The locations include 12 places (one per month):


January – Niger

February – Finland

March – Namibia

April – Indonesia

May – Greenland

June – Australia

July – India

August – Russia

September – China

October – Italy

November – Canada

December – Micronesia



The struggles are familiar, the stories heartbreaking, the attitudes and pain universal.  Geyrhalter has created a true achievement in many ways, including showing that no matter how good things have become for some, there are many who will never find happiness or joy, just trying to get by and it is sobering for those will more opportunities who complain instead of try to do something with their lives to see this stark, true portrait of these people we get to visit.  It is a surprise that some of the locations are known names, but happen to be in places their governments would prefer not to deal with openly or publicly.


With many things in the world going badly of late (environment, relations, economy, quality of life), Elsewhere reminds us it was never good for so many to begin with and some things never change.  Just because you might be doing well, assuming others are too is self-serving myth.  It is ultimately a portrait of people left behind that, if we do not forget them or about them, it keeps us honest.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image digitally-shot images are sometimes remarkable considering the conditions and remoteness of the areas in footage you’ll never see again.  Some clever shots are gained all over the place and you often even feel you are there.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is as good a series of location recordings under the circumstances as we could expect.  The combination is as compelling as any such documentary of late and far superior to goofy “reality TV” garbage.  There are no extras.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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