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Friday, 5 September 2014

Die Andere Heimat

No trip  to Germany is complete without a visit to Saturn to  pick up  DVDs. This time we came back with Edgar Reitz's Die Andere Heimat: Chronik Einer Sehnsucht

It's a prequel to his Heimat trilogy and deals with the same Simon family in the same Hunsrueck village but now set in the hungry 1840s. Life is hard, the Prussians are oppressive - there are some gay memories of the French occupation - the local Baron is unsympathetic and the children drop like flies. But life goes on. Jakob the son of the blacksmith is a hopeless dreamer immersed in books about  Brazilian Indians (and not much use to his family). His older and more worldly brother Gustav returns from military service, gets on with life, builds a steam engine, gets Jakob's girl pregnant and has to marry her. Naturally the child is snatched away by diphtheria and the young couple decide enough is enough and join the hundreds of others who are emigrating to Brazil. The first letter home which takes more than a year to arrive comes too late for the mother  - she has just been laid in the ground. Jakob makes his peace with his father & uses his bookish learning to improve his brother's steam engine by adding a regulator.

And that's about it as far as plot goes. It doesn't sound much, but actually it is more than enough to fill four hours. It's beautifully shot in black and white with very occasional bits of colour - often cornflour blue, symbolic of longing. A fair bit of the dialogue is in dialect which was too tough for my ropey German, but the more pedestrian Hochdeutsch subtitles meant I could follow most of it. I guess it will make it to British screens soon. Here's a taster.

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