Facets Video: Heimat Press Release
June 6, 2005
Facets Video is proud to announce the DVD release of Heimat: A Chronical of Germany, Edgar Reitz's monumental 11-part series. Hailed as "a watershed in European cinema," by The Guardian, and "a milestone in contemporary film history," by Variety, Heimat took five years to conceive and two years to shoot. Told with stylized naturalism and fluid action, Heimat covers German history from 1919 to 1982, focusing on the fictional village of Schabbach and the Simon family that lives there. Like the rest of the German people, the Simon family has to endure the hard times after WWI, struggle with the rise and fall of Nazism and WWII, and then prosper with the rebuilding of the country after the war. Premiering on German television in 1984 and then released theatrically around the world, Heimat is now available for the first time on DVD as a six-disc box set, with a total running time of 925 minutes, will be released on August 30, 2005, and retails for $99.95.
Edgar Reitz, with Alexander Kluge, conceived the Oberhausen Manifesto of 1962, which led to state funding for film and a New German Cinema that supported the careers of such great German directors as Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Wim Wenders and Werner Herzog. Ironically, the manifesto started as an uprising against the "Heimat-film," a distinctive German film genre that celebrates a glorified sentimental attachment to home, a genre relatively unknown outside of German and debased since Hitler. It became Reitz's ambition to reclaim this genre, declaring "in German culture, there is no more ambivalent feeling, hardly a worse mixture of happiness and brutality, than the experience embedded in the word 'Heimat.'"
After watching the American television miniseries Holocaust, Reitz saw that "German history was reduced to the level of fiction" and "how [Holocaust] was taken seriously and how the question of guilt in German history was being discussed on the basis of this travesty. I watched the horrible crocodile tears of our nation." Disgusted yet inspired, he embarked on the largest co-production in German television history. Using his entire savings and receiving backing from German television companies WDR and Berlin SFB, Reitz was able to create "one of the most important -- and importantly controversial -- films produced in Germany since World War II" (Cineaste). Shot in five villages with 3683 extras, 32 leading actors, 159 speaking parts, and 52 crew members, Heimat is a unique German endeavor, hugely collaborative, yet intimate and personal. Reitz's intention was to bring attention to the longing for roots all people feel. Yet, Reitz states, "the drama lies in the fact that one can never return. And I think that is really the problem of this century."
Drawing comparisons with Gone With the Wind and Fassbinder's Berlin Alexanderplatz, Heimat is "history seen from ground level-vividly acted by a huge cast" (The New York Times). As the matriarch of the Simon family, and the centerpiece role of Heimat, Marita Breuer goes from 19 to 82, though she was only 30 when filming began. Cineaste calls her performance "one of the finest performances of postwar German cinema."
Newsday declares that "[Heimat] transforms the commonplaces of domestic drama into a saga of the human condition." Using film stock that alternates between black and white, monochrome and full color, sometimes within the same scene, Heimat is an ambitious work and "by far the most revolutionary work of cinema of [the eighties]" (Film Comment). The DVD includes a Facets Cine-Notes booklet with an introduction from noted Heimat expert Marc Silberman of the University of Wisconsin, a timeline of German history and plot summaries of each episode. Heimat has a total running time of 925 minutes, is in color and black and white and is in German with English subtitles.
Facets Multi-Media, Inc. licenses and distributes world and independent cinema on its own DVD label and exclusively distributes DVD product for other labels including Cinemateca, Accent Cinema, Arte Video, Life Size Entertainment, Polart, Ron Knight Media, Transflux Films, and Other Cinema DVD. The over 400 works on the Facets Video label include Krzysztof Kieslowski's epic film The Decalogue, Lars von Trier's Medea, The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob, Luis Bunuel's Un Chien Andalou, William Klein's Muhammad Ali the Greatest and a comprehensive retrospective of the works of Hungarian filmmaker Béla Tarr. The complete Facets Video Catalog is available online at www.facets.org or by calling 1-800-331-6197. The catalog includes more than 60,000 DVD and video titles from over 1,200 distributors.
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