IIn the Hunsrück there is a word that sounds as if it had been smuggled into the vernacular by Heidegger: secret. Not to be confused with secret, even if one thing is hidden in it, namely the basis for a good life. Filmmaker Edgar Reitz, who wrote an autobiography on the occasion of his approaching ninetieth birthday, sees himself as protected in a secret. He is a man, an artist, who experienced a good “care” in his childhood (that would be the root of the word), who later returned to his concrete roots in this German landscape and gave his work a center with a cycle about the Hunsrück: ” Heimat” grew from 1981 into a gigantic work that told the German history of the twentieth century from below, in a dramaturgical parallel action to comparable efforts also in historical studies.
Edgar Reitz is the everyday historian of the New German Film, at the same time a pioneer of what emerged as Quality TV in America in the noughties, albeit in his case under the conditions of German public television and partly its specific inertia and cowardice. In 1962 he signed the famous Oberhausen Manifesto, with which post-war cinema tried to free itself from the repression of “Papa’s cinema”, but he went his own way alongside heroes such as Herzog, Wenders or Fassbinder, because he found a detour to the cinema, as an industrial filmmaker, i.e. as a contract worker for the German economic miracle.
At a critical distance from the ideologization of the 1968s
Reitz has a lot to tell, and he takes a lot of space for it, on more than seven hundred pages he tries to interlace “film time, life time”. He is aware of the fact that with “Heimat” he has also created something like a memory barrier. It’s not at all easy to remember behind this fictionalization, after all he often based his screenplays on his own experiences. “Nameless impressions shine into the films,” he writes once, at other points he can name the impressions precisely, such as an “earthenware pot with sour milk,” which can probably also be seen as a sign of a secret – and of dealing with it agricultural products long before the big dairies. A hint of Proust is recognizable here, at the same time the narrative resolution into the scenic (in anticipation of the later cinematic shot) already played a role at that time: “Stickelscher verziel” is a Hunsrück formulation for the narration of events, as used above all by the maternal grandfather could, a distance walker at the railway.