Home from Home: Chronicle of a Vision

 

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The octogenarian Edgar Reitz famed for Heimat and its successors provides a perfect prequel that works in its own right.

 


 Home from Home

 
Inadequately trumpeted on its release here in 2015, this German feature was in fact one of the highlights of the cinematic year and a remarkable achievement by any standards. It was in 1984 that Edgar Reitz born in 1932 attained international fame through the making of Heimat, a saga about life in the imaginary setting of Schabbach, a village in the Rhineland. It lasted over fifteen hours and covered the period from 1919 to 1981, a fact that made it both a family tale encompassing more than one generation and also a reflection of German history in a key period. Other connected films followed even if they failed to appear in British cinemas, but this latest piece from the veteran filmmaker did get distribution here and deserved it.

 

Home from Home: Chronicle of a Vision is more modest than Heimat, covering only the years 1842 to 1844 as it tells the story of certain ancestors of the characters previously featured. But that modesty is limited in that the veteran Reitz, still clearly a master, has dared to make a film in two parts with a total running length  little short of four hours. The length works for the film since, before its tale of two brothers and their contrasted fates gets fully under way in the second part, we spend enough time with the family and their neighbours in Part 1 to feel that we know them and their community. This adds considerably to the overall impact of a film which becomes an engaging example of popular storytelling at its best.
 
The personal tale involves sibling rivalry, a romantic triangle and the growth of the central character to manhood, but the film also takes on board class issues and a special feature of the period, the dream of poor people to escape to a better life by emigrating to America. Even if family duties play their own role, the conflict between that vision and the pull of one’s birthplace is central here. Wonderfully shot in black and white and in ’Scope (albeit with occasional touches of colour as in Heimat), the film is essentially a single narrative which over the two Parts catches up the viewer who, by the close, feels like a participant. 

  

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Jan Dieter Schneider, Antonia Bell, Maximilian Scheidt, Marita Breuer, Rüdiger Kriese, Philippe Lembeck, Werner Herzog.


Dir Edgar Reitz, Pro Christian Reitz, Screenplay Edgar Reitz and Gert Heidenreich, Ph Gernot Roll and Michael Praun, Pro Des Toni Berg and Husky Hornberger, Ed Uwe Klimmeck, Music Michael Riessler, Costumes Esther Amuser.


Günter Rohrbach/ERF Edgar Reitz Filmproduktion/Les Films du Losange/WDR/ARTE/Cine+-Curzon Film World.
231 mins. Germany/France. 2013. Rel: 17 April 2015. Cert. 15
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