Edger Reitz masterful saga is a classic series that thanks to this restoration, comes anew into a world that has lived passed these moments but has never really moved from them. The Simon family have been a fixture of the town of Schabbach, in the west Rhine, for as long as can be remembered. From the dying embers of the first war, where German youth was decimated and Europe was left in tatters. Then on to money and a town growing as the post war world seeks riches. Before that moment of economic calamity and runs on the mark. Then through to the roaring flames of the second world war and a country flattened. Passing along post war reconstruction and American influences, through the rise in political fear and on to the wall. We live inside the family as free love takes hold and the future as yet unset begins.
I have little words that could even reflect the brilliance of this series. A series which in a few broad strokes opened up the counter viewpoint. The post war world denied Germany a collective analysis of the century which saw two major wars, economic boom and bust and the division of the state. The first thing to do is actually a mental process. Forget if you will the length of this piece. At 889 minutes it is a massive undertaking and one not to be entered easily. Remember instead that what you have are 30 odd films that chart German life, loves, loses. They cover the German century like no other series has done. In fact if I am honest it is unlike anything ever made before or since. Edgar Reitz wanted to challenge the orthodoxy of global opinion. Challenge the position of German evil and instead reflect the countries peoples overcoming adversity. Overcoming but also keeping on. Through Nazi nightmares and national unity. All lyrically handled, visually skilled, colour puncturing the profound world. Swishing between thematic and political honest and all enveloping this major piece without losing its edge.
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You get a wealth of riches here. The restoration could have been lazy in its handling. However here it is the black and white which feels cinematic. Black night, white tones of light sculpt the exterior less then the interior but compare it to the DVD release and you can easily uncover the improvement. It makes the first film sublime to watch. The rest are improved but I honestly felt it most at the start.
The top 3 extras are
The Prologue feature is 2 hours that can be watched after the event or prior to. It contextual approach keeps you inside the narrative but also feels as if it is a stand alone work about the place and the region. This exposes Edger Reitz motivation for making the series and more over the ideas that still propelled it forward.
Showing Not Talking compounds what the film world thought of the series. Kubrick producer and German Harlin gives us a layered approached to the piece. It is something when he motions toward how the series actually opened up the world to maybe feeling Germany was more than a country that started wars and slaughter minority groups.
Finally the booklet. I haven’t seen it but it is packed full. Of detail. Delightful pieces and Reitz writing about his OPUS…
- Restored from the original negative by The Edgar Reitz Film Foundation
- ‘Heimat – The Hunsruek Villages: Stories From The Film Locations’ Edgar Reitz’s 2-hour documentary ‘prologue’ to Heimat
- An interview with Edgar Reitz on the making of Heimat
- Maria’s Story: Marita Breuer on Heimat
- Christian Reitz: Restoring Heimat
- Showing Not Talking: Jan Harlan on Heimat A Visual Essay by Daniel Bird
- 50 page limited edition soft cover book featuring liner notes by Carmen Gray, ‘The Collaboration with Gernot Roll’ by Edgar Reitz and ‘Germany as Memory’ by Anton Kaes