Home from Home – Chronicle of a Vision

Follow-up to the TV trilogy "Heimat", this time for cinemas, set again in the fictional village Schabbach in the Hunsrück region of Rhineland-Palatinate.


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  • ★★★★★ review by Frank M. on Letterboxd

    I don't write reviews, neither in English nor German. But today is a very special day.

    Today I have watched a nearly four-hour-long film. Filmed in black & white, with a regional German dialect. Set in a small village in the mid-19th century. Directed by the 80 year old Edgar Reitz. In short: the best and most beautiful film I have seen in a long time. Very moving and captivating. An epic masterpiece. My heart almost stopped several times because I forgot to breath while tears were flowing. It has been an experience I will never forget.

    I predict this film will appear on some Best of-lists of cinephiles at the end of this decade. Provided it will be available with English subtitles eventually.

    Watch three official trailers (without dialogue) here:


  • ★★★★★ review by Chris Hormann on Letterboxd

    A 4 hour German film set in the 19th century may not seem like a fun way to spend an afternoon, but count me as a believer.

    This is a film of rare beauty, epic in scope but centred around the domestic. It has a real dirty 19th century life feel but contains elements of magical realism. It is screened in black and white but with flashes of colour that highlight the magical feel. And even at 4 hours, you just want it to go on. Warning: may contain Herzogian cameo.

  • ★★★★★ review by slyman on Letterboxd

    "Leave-taking comes naturally to all human creatures. The days of our lives pass by one by one and we shall never see any of them again."

    John Lennon captured the essence of this film when he said: Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.

    Two word review: Modern Epic

  • ★★★★★ review by eulenspiegel on Letterboxd

    Das Alterswerk eines Meisters

    Edgar Reitz, der mit seiner dreiteiligen "Heimat"-Serie schon in den 80ern das horizontale Erzählen ins Fernsehen gebracht hat, legt hier eine Art Prequel als Kinofilm vor. Wieder geht es in den Hunsrück, ins Dorf Schabach, wieder zur Familie Simon. Diesmal allerdings nicht im 20. Jahrhundert, sondern in die - im Kino sträflich vernachlässigte - Zeit des Vormärzes kurz vor 1848.

    Wie aus dem Handgelenk geschüttelt fächert Reitz ein Panorama der einfachen Landbevölkerung einer Zeit kurz vor der Industrialisierung auf, in der Hunger, Elend und Fürstenwillkür noch so allgegenwärtig waren, dass eine regelrechte Auswanderungswelle nach Amerika ausbrach (ja, damals waren die Deutschen die "Wirtschaftsflüchtlinge", aber das nur so am Rande).

    Von Südamerika träumt auch der junge Jakob Simon. Der ist der Sohn des Dorfschmieds, kann sich aber - ähnlich wie später Hermann in der Serie - kaum in das "einfache" Dorfleben einleben. Er liest, schreibt, ist sehr verkopft. Ganz anders als sein Bruder Gustav, der etwas einfältiger erscheint, das Leben aber zu jeder sich bietender Gelegenheit genießen möchte.

    Viel mehr gibt es an Handlung eigentlich nicht, denn den Film lediglich als simplen "Konkurrenzkampf" ungleicher Brüder zu beschreiben (obwohl da natürlich Jettchen ist, die sich so gern von Jakob von Südamerika erzählen lässt, auf dem Erntefest dann aber doch mit Gustav tanzt, weil Jakob sich nicht traut...), würde ihm absolut nicht gerecht werden.

    Wer sich auf diese knapp vier Stunden auf hunsrücker Platt einlässt, kann erleben, wozu Kino fähig sein vermag. Geschichten von Menschen, echten Menschen und ihrer Gesellschaft. Und das so unaufgeregt, dass ich es manchmal nicht fassen konnte. Wenn Jakobs Mutter in einem Moment tiefen Friedens ihren beiden Söhnen erzählt, dass es ihr eben so vorgekommen wäre, als hätte sie ihre sechs (!) schon verstorbenen Kinder ihr zuwinken sehen - mir kamen die Tränen. Und das fotografiert in einem weiten Kornfeld, in betörendem Schwarzweiß. Magisch. Oder die Euphorie der Menschen zur "Kerb", der Kirmes zum Ende der Ernte. Oder, oder, oder...

    Vermutlich sind es doch die "kleinen" Geschichten, die wirklich berühren.

  • ★★★★ review by Leon Li on Letterboxd

    A cinematic recapitulation of his canonical Heimat (roughly can be interpreted as “homeland”) mini-series (three chronological installments encompassing a totol 30 episodes, released in 1984, 1993 and 2003 respectively), which conscientiously survey the shifting ethos of Germany from mid-19th century till the millennium through families dwelling in a fictitious Hunsrück village called Schabbach, octogenarian New German Cinema veteran Edgar Reitz's latest edition marks his first feature film in 35 years, on top of its whopping 225-minutes running time.

    HOME FROM HOME is au fond a prequel, sets its time-frame precisely from 1840 to 1844, and the cynosure here is a geeky adolescent boy Jakob Simon (Schneider), the youngest son of a blacksmith family in the village, who is not cut from the same cloth like his peers, for example his elder brother Gustav (Scheidt), and is often called on the carpet by their parochial father Johann (Kriese) for shirking day-to-day drudgery. Jakob is an avid bookworm and is weaned on the vast world purveyed by other people’s words and imagination, he begins to envisage a life beyond his homebound hardscrabble status quo (the area is constantly plagued by crop failure, harsh weather and pandemic illness), specifically, to emigrate to Brazil, for that purpose, he even masters the language of a particular tribe of South-American Indian, and often effuses about it with sheer elation, say, in front of Jettchen (Bill), the corn-fed girl he cottons to.

    Little does Jakob know, what kismet lays in store for him is diametrically opposite of that ideal, the Grim Reaper sporadically assails the family either by abrupt fits or after a chronic affliction; Jettchen, who takes a jollification-addled fancy on Gustav, a hammer blow directly precipitates Jakob's self-inflicted prison stint, ends up becoming his sister-in-law; but the last straw renders Brazil a castle in the air is the filial duty that befalls him when Gustav and Jettchen pre-empt his own pending migration, a muddy fraternal grapple turns out to be the best solution to blow off their steam.

    Jakob stays, and life continues with its unchanged pace, he settles for Florinchen (Lembeck), Jettchen’s comely thick-as-thieves friend he likes but not exactly loves, his erudition finally earns the respect from Johann, who also mends fences with Lena (Fouché), his daughter, Jakob and Gustav’s sister who has been cut off from the family because she marries a man of a different religious persuasion, in the end of the day, Reitz’s time-honored sense of perspective about life, time and humanity hits the mark with distinction.

    Sensibly and relentlessly, Reitz adopts a sedate rhythm to the meandering narrative and characterizes a lyrical nostalgia (enhanced by Michael Riessler’s protean score conveying emotions with high fidelity) which beautifully pervades this saga from stem to stern. The film is shot in an aesthetically mind-blowing monochrome (which anticipates Ciro Guerra’s mesmerizing EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT 2015, that could be providentially welcomed as an otherworldly answer to Jakob’s unfulfilled longing), which is ingeniously if economically interspersed with eye-catching polychromatic imagery: a golden coin, an agate keepsake, a German flag, fire blazing a horseshoe, the tail of an arcing comet, two varicolored garlands, roadside blue berries or other floral variations, all pregnant with Reitz’s divine acuity of discerning and accentuate beauty in both sweeping landscape and quotidian rigors with his reductive idiom.

    Thematically, HOME FROM HOME adheres to Reitz' humanism vision which precludes it from degrading into an eye-level pastoral, and incontrovertibly, he has been inculcated with the same humble naturalism which is in the veins of his coevals like Jan Troell and Ermanno Olmi, while anchoring this film in the signs of its time like diaspora, privation and disillusion, Reitz tops it off with a well-earned serenity to patch up with the aftermath of a dashed dream and bereavement.

    Although the film is not necessarily an actor’s showpiece, and newcomer Jan Dieter Schneider’s central performance is a bit of a curate’s egg, one real trouper should be name-checked, the leading actress in the first Heimat series, Marita Breuer, understatedly returns as Margarethe, the hard-working and loving mother of the household, and feeds this estimable roman-fleuve an affecting sentiment that echoes its auteur’s own monody towards mortality and permanence.

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