Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The first Heimat premiered in 1984 and follows the life of Maria Simon, a woman living in the fictional village of Schabbach, from 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 affected a small rural community.
Zweite Heimat (literally The Second Heimat, and called, in the English version, Leaving Home) (subtitled Chronik einer Jugend — Chronicle of a Youth) followed in 1992. It tells the story of how Maria's youngest son Hermann leaves his rural home and makes a new life for himself as a composer in Munich during the socially turbulent years of the 1960s. At 25 hours and 32 minutes divided into 13 episodes, The Second Heimat is considered the longest film to be commercially shown in its entirety.
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 the version broadcast on the German ARD television network in December 2004 has controversially been edited to six ninety-minute episodes .
The title Heimat is a German word meaning homeland. Its use is partly an ironic reference to the genre of the Heimatfilm which was popular in Germany in the 1950s. Heimatfilms were noted for their rural settings, sentimental tone and simplistic morality.
Director Edgar Reitz has explained the title of The Second Heimat as "not [...] a continuation of Heimat, but that place which we find as adults, which we choose freely for ourselves and call our second home. Career, friendships, these are values which easily crumble. In the second Heimat one lives on uncertain ground."
Aesthetically, all three films are notable for their artful switching between colour and black-and-white film to convey different emotional states.
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