The series (11 episodes) tells the story of the village Schabbach, on the Hunsrueck in Germany through the years 1919-1982. Central person is Maria, who we see growing from a 17 year old girl to an old woman, and her family. The family, like the rest of the German people live through the crises after WW-I, the rise and fall of Nazism and WW-II, and the rebuilding and the following prosperity of the village (as a symbol for the whole country) after WW II.Written by
Roemer Lievaart <email@example.com>
Presented at the Rencontres Cinématographiques de Digne-les-Bains (1985). See more »
In the narration at the beginning of "Das Fest der Lebenden und der Toten" we are told that Pauline died in 1979. However on the family tree the date is listed as 1975. This is confirmed when Hermann visits the grave and the date on the tombstone is 1975. See more »
Recounting the lives of the inhabitants of a German village from 1919 to 1982, Edgar Reitz's epic miniseries Heimat- A Chronicle of Germany is a stunning showcase of film-making at its finest, a fifteen-hour masterpiece, unequaled in European cinema.
The story begins with Paul Simon's return to Schabbach, the village where he was born, at the end of World War I. The conflict has left its marks on him, but no one notices this until it's too late: the first episode ends with Paul leaving Schabbach in 1928, without telling anyone.
We will subsequently learn he has become a successful businessman in America, although this aspect of the plot is covered sparingly, the director being more interested in the Scabbach community, where life revolves around Paul's wife, Maria (Marita Breuer). She is the heart and soul of these eleven episodes, watching her sons grow up, her in-laws get old and the world change radically: over the course of fifty-four years, she will witness war, poverty, family crises and much more, always trying to remain calm and controlled.
Reitz's brilliance lies partly in the story he tells (the history of an entire nation seen through the eyes of common people), but most of all in the means he employs to tell it: on the surface, Heimat looks like an ordinary TV miniseries, but in fact the director delivers a fifteen-hour art-house film, as testified by the techniques used to bring the story to life: what mainstream television product would feature so many black and white/color transitions (dictated by emotional reasons, rather than narrative), ambiguous characters (especially Maria, whose increasingly cold behavior has a devastating effect on her son Hermann, as we will see in Heimat 2), unconventional themes (adultery and sexual initiation were still taboos on the small screen in 1984) and bizarre fantasy sequences (one might even be entitled to think Reitz began the TV revolution given US form by David Lynch's work on Twin Peaks)? And let's not forget the unreliable narrator (every episode is introduced by Glasisch, the village fool), who makes the viewer unable to interpret the Heimat cycle in only one way. I also have to point out that the title is ironic: the people portrayed in these episodes struggle to find a home-country (that's what "heimat" means, although the translation doesn't fully live up to the significance that word has in German), but are destined to fail on one level or another: they can only find a temporary home, which will eventually vanish along with them.
For all the reasons listed above, Heimat deserves to be seen: those wondering if there still is a difference (in terms of quality, if not even success) between big and small screen really ought to give this intense opus a look.
27 of 29 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this