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Customer Review

46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Deeper Sequel, 15 May 2008
This review is from: Heimat 3 - A Chronicle Of Endings And Beginnings [2005] [DVD] (DVD)
I fell in love with the original Heimat when it came out in 1984 and was televised then. It was by far the best exposition of German life during the Third Reich, and explains a lot about how ordinary Germany was taken in by the Nazis (or suffered them or enthused about them). I was left after the last episode set in 1982 that it was a shame the lives of the next generation could not be explored further.

I was disappointed by the Second Heimat because it dwelt on a generation above mine who were already leaving home at the time I was born. I felt it a self-indulgence of Edgar Reitz to dwell on his extended autobiography through Hermann.

So I was most interested when Heimat 3 carried on from the first series, in and around Schabbach, opening just seven years after the last episode, when German history was starting to get interesting again.

I thought I would miss too much the original series to enjoy something set in the 1990s throughout, but as the run progressed, I started to love some of the depths and the pathos of Heimat 3, which ran even deeper than before, as if Heimat 1 was just skimming over the surface.

Two of the characters from the first series were played by the same actors. This was a triumph to bring in Matthias Kniesbeck and Michael Kausch as Anton and Ernst. This led to some interesting make-up continuity problems, since in 1982, the actors were already playing characters 25 years older than themselves: Kniesbeck looked too young, and Kausch over made-up with his bald head. By Heimat 3, these actors had aged themselves 20 years and the characters only seven, so they both fitted well into old men approaching 70. The paradox between these two set up in the 1950s and the 1960s especially was improved upon in Heimat 3 - Ernst the wide boy with a passion for human rights and correcting injustices, and Anton the bear of a man with a love for his homeland and its people and a sense of traditional propriety quite different to that of his brother, but no less or more valid.

The central theme of Heimat 3 is of course Hermann. It was not exclusively about him this time, and used his intense artistic sensitivity and calm impassion in the face of his family's goings on to great effect. His homecoming after a bitter departure was another fresh slant on the same theme, set at the start by his stepfather, Paul. This theme was explored elsewhere in Heimat 3 exploiting history that had not existed before 1989.

It was brilliant how the theme of restoring an old house gave us a whole set of new characters, not from Schabbach, but no less interesting. Gunnar, the impulsive Eastern builder led to a memorable scene with his daughter at the turn of the millennium, which was a mixture of rough justice, pathos and joy in equal measures.

Galena, (the warm and pretty young Russian mother brought in by Ernst) willing to subject herself to anything for the sake of her child and her new life. This is an interesting refection on the mail-order bride syndrome as a response to cold modern Western feminism (the most notably chilling example being the female funeral director in a middle episode).

These are two characters who would be nice to see in any Heimat 4.

Maybe the biggest difficulty following on from the first series concerns Anton's five children. In the first series, they were rich kids, but not unpleasant - the 1982 Gisela was quite beautiful. By Heimat 3, they had become really nasty pieces of work, with little to commend any of them. The only other character irredeemably bad was of course Wilfried Wiegand from Series One, whom Reitz had written in to repay a hostile critic namesake who had blighted his early career. Even Ernst, who was made out to be a baddie in the last two episodes of the first series, was a saint compared to this shower.

All along there are little timebombs set up in earlier episodes which go off later - notably the cause of Hermann's foot injury (sharp-eyed devotees will remember the same thing happening in the first series), and a chance encounter on a train which was to have major repercussions later.

I could go on at the risk of spoiling it for those who have not seen it on TV first...

The two documentaries on the first disk are also very good. Please note that the latest cheaper box set (released April 2008) does not contain the paperback book with the cast list and a lot of background information. Just the six disks.

By and large, the subtitles are very good and complement the German well (it is better to go along with the Hunsruck dialect but have the English too). I do wish though they would translate Ernst's insult "Fussganger" as "pedestrian" rather than the more positive "hiker".

It is not a work for the action movie devotee - it goes far too slowly for that. Nor does it have the simplistic formulae of soap opera. It is a work one has to bury oneself in, like a novel, and for me this works.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 1 Aug 2008 22:21:01 BDT
R. A. Monk says:
Wonderfully thorough. Thanks very much.
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Location: Malvern, Worcestershire, England

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