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UNDER JAKOB'S LADDER takes place in the Soviet Union during 1938. Jakob (played by Jeff Stewart) is a former teacher who lost his job due to the new Communist system. He can only stand by and watch as the world around him slowly disintegrates with fear and suspicion ruling the day. Like most of the men in his village, he soon finds himself in a Soviet prison. But it is there that he discovers that the freedom he craves might actually be found within the very walls of his cell.
Filming Jakob's House
This movie was inspired by the life of a real man named Jakob Seel; based on his experience living under Soviet rule at the outset of the Second World War.
Jakob's life story is representative of so many others who lived during Stalinist great purges. His German-speaking ancestors had been among those invited to settle in the Russian territories between the mid-1700s to the early 1800s. The initial invitation came from Catherine the Great, with subsequent invitations coming from her son and grandson who ruled after her. Today, Jakob's people are known as the Germans from Russia.
By the time Stalin came to power, life in Ukraine was drastically altered. Jakob, a teacher/preacher in his village, was removed from his positions. All churches were shut down (and many were turned into granaries). Little by little, their freedoms began to disappear... Then, in the late 1930s, Stalin began his political purges. Jakob was arrested after praying a simple prayer at a funeral.
Most of what we know about Jakob and his family comes from oral tradition. The movie is intended as a tribute to the many thousands who did not survive the Stalinist purges. It is also offered as a reminder of the courage of those people who did.
The Real Jakob Seel (c.1918)
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