I don't expect to forget Edgar Reitz's 11 - part film Heimat, which ran like a river on BBC 2 in the early summer, and which tells the story of a family, and of a community, in the Hunsrück region of Germany over the years 1919 to 1982 - a long film for a long haul. Towards the end of that interval of time Reitz's work became an object of hostility for the exhibitors of the German film industry: I gathered as much from an interesting Observer Profile, which also explained that, in making Heimat, this highbrow chose to 'stick to hard facts' and to 'curb his "intellectuality" ', directing it into a notebook, and which claimed that the film had restored a sense of the national past in delivering a tension between traditional ways and a 'thrust for individual identity' in the technological modern world. The Profile may have enlivened what I took to be a rather anaemic response to the film since it was first shown in cinemas in this country. My impression is that cinéastes shrank from it as from some sort of solid up-market soap opera, and that in being seen as unduly popular, it has failed to flourish. So much the worse, if so, for British audiences. Heimat strikes me as one of the most important events in the history of the cinema.
LRB 9 October 1986 | PDF Download