Sonntag, 27. April 2014

Die andere Heimat- Chronik einer Sehnsucht (Home from Home)

"Die andere Heimat- Chronik einer Sehnsucht (Home from Home)" is a 4-hour black-and-white German movie about the life of a group of villagers set in the 1840's. Honestly, anyone who's paid to sit through it should be given a medal.

Apart from the rather wonderful last 60 minutes, the preceding 170 do feel punishingly long, primarily because the film sticks in large part to an incident-based structure that doesn't allow any organic narrative to unfold. We see the good people of a secluded settlement go about their farming, smithing chores, drink and dance festivities in many scenes, and they do present a detailed, persuasive recreation of the pre-industrialized quotidian of the 19th century. But something that connects the dots and drives the plot remains elusive. Plenty of fuses are lit on an emotional level as well, with births, deaths, stolen love and dashed dreams all in play, but they're seldom embedded in a calculated context that would give them more lasting resonance. In the strong final act, things do fall into place and the scale of a proper family epos could be felt, but whether that justifies the whole gigantic, insufficiently edited undertaking might still be debatable.

Writer/director Edgar Reitz's old-school, gung ho approach on this film is admirable but not necessarily winning. The technical achievements he oversees are easy to appreciate though. The cinematography is often dashing in its sprawling strokes and nimble motion. The music, ranging from chirpy to haunting in its varied tone, is very effective. Lead actor Jan Dieter Schneider is commendable as the daydreaming narrator pining for a new world, even though there's something irredeemably modern about his features that could be visually distracting.

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