Heimat (film series)

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Heimat poster.JPG
Directed by Edgar Reitz
Produced by Edgar Reitz
Hans Kwiet
Joachim von Mengershausen
Robert Busch
Christian Reitz
Margaret Menegoz
Written by
  • Edgar Reitz
  • Peter F. Steinbach
  • (Heimat & Fragments)
  • Thomas Brussig
  • (Heimat 3 & Fragments)
  • Gert Heidenreich
  • (Home From Home)
Starring Marita Breuer
Henry Arnold
Salome Kammer
Mathias Kniesbeck
Michael Kausch
Nicola Schössler
Jan Dieter Schneider
Music by Nikos Mamangakis
Michael Riessler
Cinematography Gernot Roll
Gerard Vandenberg
Christian Reitz
Thomas Mauch
Edited by
  • Heidi Handorf
  • (Heimat)
  • Susanne Hartmann
  • (Heimat 2 & Heimat 3)
  • Christian Reitz
  • (Fragments)
  • Uwe Klimmeck
  • (Home From Home)
Release date
  • 16 September 1984
  • (Heimat)
  • 4 March 1993
  • (Heimat 2)
  • 15 December 2004
  • (Heimat 3)
  • 2 September 2006
  • (Heimat Fragments)
  • 13 October 2013
  • (Home From Home)
Running time
3,572 minutes (total)
Country West Germany
Language German

Heimat is the title of a series of films, for a total of 32 episodes, written and directed by Edgar Reitz, which view life in Germany between 1840s to 2000 through the eyes of a family from the Hunsrück area of the Rhineland. Personal and domestic life is set against glimpses of wider social and political events. The combined length of the 32 films is 59 hours and 32 minutes, making it one of the longest series of feature-length films in cinema history.

The title Heimat (pronounced [ˈhaɪmat]) is a German word, often expressed with terms such as "homeland" or "home place", but it has been alleged that the word has no English equivalent.[1][page needed] Usage has come to include that of an ironic reference to the film genre known as Heimatfilm which was popular in Germany in the 1950s. Heimat films were characterized by rural settings, sentimental tone and simplistic morality.

Aesthetically, all three series are notable for their frequent switching between color and black-and-white film to convey different emotional states. In 1987, it won a BAFTA for "Foreign Television Programme".[2]

The first film was released in 1984 with a followup in 1993. A direct sequel to the original film was released in 2003. In 2006, a film was released that created a narrative by featuring unused footage and outtakes. A prequel film to the original was released in 2013.


The Hunsrück, shaded red on a map of modern Germany.

Tales from the Hunsrück Villages[edit]

Before creating the Heimat series Reitz produced a documentary from 1980–81 about people from his home region, the Hunsrück, in which he later set the Heimat series. In Geschichten aus den Hunsrückdörfern ("Tales from the Hunsrück Villages") he showed people who hadn't left the region. This documentary is not considered to be part of the core Heimat series but set the stage for the work to come a few years later. It is further interesting because the documentary is about staying in the region, staying home, while the later series is about leaving home.

Autobiographical elements[edit]

Berkeley Film and Media Professor, Anton Kaes (1989) argued that auteur film-maker Edgar Reitz's trilogy was autobiographical. Reitz and Paul Simon, his fictional character in Heimat had fathers who were skilled craftsmen. Edgar Reitz was born in 1932 and Paul Simon in 1898 in Hunsrück. They grew up there, then left when they were in their twenties and returned in their fifties.[3]:164 Like Hermann Simon, in the 1950s, Reitz left rural life for the world of German urban avant-garde arts and intelligentsia. Reitz worked at the Institute of Film Design in Ulm, while Hermann became a celebrated conductor in Munich. Wealthy American entrepreneur Paul Simon returned to Hunsrück only briefly when the war ended, but Hermann Simon's return was more permanent. He and his lover Clarissa restored a house overlooking the Rhine that lay in ruins, eventually composing music for representing and celebrating his relationship to Heimat. Both Hermann and Reitz 'dramatized the tensions between staying home, leaving and returning (Kaes 1989:164)', Hermann through music and Reitz through film.


After watching Holocaust, Reitz was offended by the American 'melodramaticisation' of the tragic events and the positive reception the film came upon. In 1979, Reitz began to make notes of his own life and conceived a screenplay based upon his youth. He completed a 250-page draft. Later in the year Reitz contacted Peter Steinbach and together after what was planned to be a single night, they stayed for the next thirteen months in a small hut in Woppenroth writing a script. They became friendly with the local villagers and even invited them to comment on the characters and incidents in the story.[4] In 1980, Reitz and Steinbach had completed a 2000-page screenplay. After haggling with television studios, Reitz managed to secure funding for the length of the script and remodeling of five Hunsrück villages. Due to the success of Berlin Alexanderplatz it had convinced television production companies that there was a market for sagas.

Shooting began on the first film in May 1981 and continued for eighteen months. The cast consisted of 140 speaking parts, 32 full-time actors, 15 non-professional actors and 3862 extras. Many of the cast featured limited stage experience or no prior acting experience at all. While shooting in the villages, the villagers became heavily involved in the projected and helped with re-modelling or set changes depending on the time period. Villagers put out advertisements in nearby villages in hope to find authentic items that could be used as props.

During shooting Reitz decided that certain elements required extra emphasis that only colour could provide. However, Reitz was quick to deny any theories behind the alternations between black & white and colour.

Thirteen months was required for editing with Reitz working alongside Heidi Handorf. Together they created an eighteen-hour rough cut that would later be trimmed down to just over fifteen hours. Post-production continued until the premiere at Munich Film Festival in 1984. The entire project had taken over five years to complete.

While making Heimat, Reitz became interested in developing a series of love stories with the working title of Men and Women. However, in October 1985, Reitz decided to make these tales the basis of Die Zweite Heimat.[5] Following Hermann, the film follows him as he leaves to study music in Munich and meets new friends, who are all following their own dreams.

Running at over 25 hours, Die Zweite Heimat took over six-years to write and production lasted 557 days. The cast comprised 71 leading actors, 310 supporting and 2300 extras. The film's soundtrack also became the longest soundtrack ever produced.


Film Episodes Release
Runtime Release Date
Heimat 11 924 mins 16 September 1984
Die Zweite Heimat 13 25 Hours, 9 Minutes 4 March 1993
Heimat 3 6 761 Minutes 15 December 2004
Heimat Fragments 1 146 minutes 2 September 2006
Home from Home 1 225 minutes 28 September 2013


Heimat, the original series, premiered in 1984 and follows the life of Maria Simon (Marita Breuer), a woman living in the fictional village of Schabbach (the village of Woppenroth in Rhein-Hunsrück, a very rural region of Germany to the west of the Rhineland-Palatinate.) This area was used for filming. The film spans the years 1919 to 1982. Subtitled Eine Deutsche Chronik — A German Chronicle, it consists of 11 episodes running in total to 15 hours 24 minutes of screen time and depicts how the events of German history affect the Simon family and the community in which they lived. At the start of each episode, Glasisch Karl narrates the story so far over photographs by Eduard Simon.

'Heimat' Episode Guide
No. Title Setting Runtime Release Date
1 "The Call of Faraway Places"
1919–28 119 minutes 16 September 1984
2 "The Centre of the World"
"Die Mitte der Welt"
1929–33 90 minutes 19 September 1984
3 "The Best Christmas Ever"
"Weihnacht wie noch nie"
1935 58 minutes 23 September 1984
4 "The Highway"
1938 58 minutes 26 September 1984
5 "Up and Away and Back"
"Auf und davon und zurück"
1938–39 59 minutes 8 October 1984
6 "The Home Front"
1943 59 minutes 15 October 1984
7 "Soldiers and Love"
"Die Liebe der Soldaten"
1944 59 minutes 22 October 1984
8 "The American"
"Der Amerikaner"
1945–47 102 minutes 31 October 1984
9 "Little Hermann"
1955–56 138 minutes 4 November 1984
10 "The Front Years"
"Die stolzen Jahre"
1967–69 82 minutes 21 October 1984
11 "The Feast of the Living and the Dead"
"Das Fest der Lebenden und der Toten"
1982 100 minutes 24 October 1984

Die zweite Heimat (Leaving Home)[edit]

Die zweite Heimat (literally "The Second Heimat", and called, in the English version, Heimat 2) (subtitled Chronik einer Jugend — Chronicle of a Youth) followed in 1992. It is set during the socially turbulent years of the 1960s and how Maria's youngest son Hermann leaves his rural home and makes a new life for himself as a composer in Munich.

Hermann is a musical prodigy whose teenage romance in 1955 with 26-year-old soul mate Klärchen was considered scandalous by his conservative home village. It resulted in her being expelled and coerced not to contact him ever again. Hermann was crushed and vowed never to love again and to leave his wicked village forever. He arrives in Munich at age 19, overwhelmed and with no place to stay. He finds a private room opening in a month, leaving the deposit with a flamboyant Hungarian woman. His friend Renate, a law student, allows Hermann to sleep on her floor but he is put off by her sexual advances. He finally rooms with Clemens, a fellow Hunsrücker who plays jazz drums in Munich's clubs. Hermann is accepted into the music conservatory, where he meets the incredibly talented Juan from Chile, whose school application is rejected on the grounds his marimbas are "folklore". Hermann and Juan network with the avant-garde culture surrounding the conservatory, including film students, while Hermann takes on odd jobs and Juan works as a gymnast teacher. Both Juan and Hermann have a brief fling with the beautiful cellist Clarissa, who fears intimacy but is drawn to those who fear it too. The students are gradually drawn to the Foxhole, a mansion headed by a wealthy art patroness said to be a "collector of artists".

'Die Zweite Heimat' Episode Guide
No. Title Setting Featured


Runtime Release Date
1 "The Time of the First Songs"
"Die Zeit der ersten Liede"
1960 Hermann 116 minutes 4 March 1993
2 "Two Strange Eyes"
"Zwei fremde Augen"
1960–61 Juan 115 minutes 7 March 1993
3 "Jealousy and Pride"
"Eifersucht und Stolz"
1961 Evelyne 116 minutes 11 March 1993
4 "Ansgar's Death"
"Ansgars Tod"
1961–62 Ansgar 100 minutes 14 March 1993
5 "The Game with Freedom"
"Das Spiel mit der Freiheit"
1962 Helga 120 minutes 18 March 1993
6 "Kennedy's Children"
"Kennedys Kinder"
1963 Alex 109 minutes 21 March 1993
7 "Christmas Wolves"
1963 Clarissa 110 minutes 25 March 1993
8 "The Wedding"
"Die Hochzeit"
1964 Schnüsschen 120 minutes 28 March 1993
9 "The Eternal Daughter"
"Die ewige Tochter"
1965 Fräulein Cerphal 118 minutes 1 April 1993
10 "The End of the Future"
"Das Ende der Zukunft"
1966 Reinhard 131 minutes 4 April 1993
11 "Time of Silence"
"Die Zeit des Schweigens"
1967–68 Rob 118 minutes 8 April 1993
12 "A Time of Many Words"
"Die Zeit der vielen Worte"
1968–69 Stefan 119 minutes 11 April 1993
13 "Art or Life"
"Kunst oder Leben"
1970 Hermann &
119 minutes 11 April 1993

Heimat 3[edit]

Heimat 3 (subtitled Chronik einer Zeitenwende — Chronicle of a Changing Time) premiered in 2004. It picks up Hermann's story in 1989 as he returns to Schabbach and depicts the events of the period from the fall of the Berlin Wall until 2000. The cinema version consists of six episodes running to 11 hours 29 minutes, although controversially the version broadcast on the German ARD television network in December 2004 was edited to six ninety-minute episodes[6] and it is this shortened version which was released on DVD.

'Heimat 3' Episode Guide
No. Title Setting Runtime Release Date
1 "The Happiest People in the World"
"Das glücklichste Volk der Welt"
1989 106 minutes 15 December 2004
2 "The World Champions"
"Die Weltmeister"
1990 100 minutes 17 December 2004
3 "The Russians are Coming"
"Die Russen kommen"
1992-93 124 minutes 20 December 2004
4 "Everyone's Doing Well"
"Allen geht's gut"
1995 132 minutes 22 December 2004
5 "The Heirs"
"Die Erben"
1997 103 minutes 27 December 2004
6 "Farewell to Schabbach"
"Abschied von Schabbach"
1999-2000 105 minutes 29 December 2004

Heimat-Fragmente (Heimat Fragments)[edit]

Heimat-Fragmente (English title Heimat Fragments), subtitled Die Frauen — The Women, was released on cinema in 2006 and focuses on the women of the Simon family at the turn of the millennium, and in the 1960s.

Die andere Heimat (Home from Home)[edit]

In April 2012 Reitz started filming a prequel to the series: Die andere Heimat (literally "The other Heimat" but it was given the English title Home from Home), with the subtitle Chronik einer Sehnsucht — Chronicle of a Vision. The film takes place between 1840 and 1844 and centres around two brothers, their families and love relations from the Hunsrück area and their decision whether to flee hunger and poverty by emigrating to Brazil.[7] Principal filming was completed in August 2012. It was screened at the Venice Film Festival in September 2013. The film was awarded a score of 70 on critical aggregator website Metacritic, indicating generally favorable reviews.[7]