Edgar Reitz: time-traveling through the nineteenth century at 80
HEIMAT IV to hit the big screen in 2013
The German filmmaker and author Edgar Reitz, who was born in Morbach, Hunsrück in the far west of Germany on November 1, 1932, recently celebrated his eightieth birthday. As one of the signatories to the Oberhausen Manifesto proclaimed in 1962, Reitz played a decisive role in laying the foundations for the development of New German Cinema and has since been among post-war Germany’s most significant film directors. Fifty years ago, the Oberhausen group called for a renunciation of “Papa’s cinema” in the following words: “The decline of conventional German cinema is finally eliminating the economic foundations of a mindset that we reject. This state of affairs is providing new cinema with the opportunity to come alive. […] We have concrete, intellectual, formal and business ideas for the production of a new German cinema. Together we are willing to bear the economic risks. The old cinema is dead. We believe in the new one.” (February 28, 1962)
In 1967, Reitz’s film MAHLZEITEN won him the award for best debut film at the Venice Film Festival. The most important of the films that followed include: CARDILLAC (1968/69), DIE REISE NACH WIEN (1973), IN GEFAHR UND GRÖSSTER NOT BRINGT DER MITTELWEG DEN TOD (1974; in collaboration with Alexander Kluge), STUNDE NULL (1976/77) and DER SCHNEIDER VON ULM (1978). In 1978 he was one of eight directors, including Fassbinder, who contributed short films on the theme of terrorism to the film project DEUTSCHLAND IM HERBST (Germany in Autumn). Reitz’s contribution formed episode eight and was titled Der Grenzposten (The Border Post). The collaborative production headed by the Filmverlag der Autoren won the German film industry’s best concept award.
It goes without saying that the pride of place in Edgar Reitz’s body of work goes to his astounding HEIMAT TRILOGY (1981-2004), which, with its 30 feature-length parts plus a prolog and a total running time of 54 hours, represent a veritable chronicle of the twentieth century. And now, with DIE ANDERE HEIMAT (The Other Heimat, 2012), it seems that Reitz is adding yet another chapter to his epic vision. His moving story of families and love is set in the mid-nineteenth century against the background of a predominantly rural German society, when entire villages, faced with famine and poverty, emigrated to South America. At the center of the plot are two brothers, who one day are confronted with the question of whether to stay or go. The project’s mentor and patron is Günter Rohrbach. The distributor CONCORDE-FILM is planning to release the film in cinemas in 2013.
The radio broadcaster SWR 2
is honoring Edgar Reitz on December 1, 2012 at 8:03 p.m.
with a special Kulturnacht
Photos: © Filmproduktions GmbH Edgar Reitz