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Edgar Reitz’s «Heimat»

Histories, Traditions, Fictions

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Rachel Palfreyman

This study of Edgar Reitz’s 1984 film saga Heimat explores the cultural contexts of the Heimat tradition and examines the political debate surrounding the film’s reception. Responses were largely supportive but some critics were disturbed by an apparent tendency to induce a sense of uncritical nostalgia in viewers. Reitz, by contrast, had wanted to make a film which would help people confront their memories of the Third Reich. The author tests hostile critiques not only against the film’s elliptical narrative but also against Reitz’s filmic techniques. She examines the interplay of realism and authenticity, and shows how Reitz dramatizes the confrontation between modernity and rural communities, while consciously alluding to the problematic and much-derided Heimat genre.
Contents: The Heimat Complex: Contexts and Intertexts – History, the Historikerstreit and Heimat – Viewers and Villagers: Soap Operas, Realism and Authenticity – The Time and the Place: Chronotopes and (Dialectical) Images of Modernity – From Heimat to Die Zweite Heimat: Nature into Art.