Home from Home: Chronicle of a Vision
German auteur filmmaker Edgar Reitz returns to the fictitious German village of Schabbach with Home from Home: Chronicle of a Vision – a staggering, near four-hour epic that acts as a prequel to the other 32 Heimat films that have consistently dribbled onto German television over the past few decades. The film series spans almost a century, and adopts the view of a German family occupying the Rhineland using crisp black and white imagery.
Naturally, those who are more intimate with Reitz’s mega series will find more to love about this expansive prequel than an unsuspecting viewer who stumbles into its screening by chance. While taking at least a peek at some of the Heimat movies is certainly recommended before sitting down to watch Home from Home, there is enough about the film to engage the more patient viewer, including some impressive performances, gorgeous cinematography, and extraordinary agricultural imagery in black in white with occasional pinches of colour.
The prequel focuses on the ancestors of the Simon family who ordinarily take up screen space in the Heimat series: a humble household consisting of Johann the Blacksmith, his wife Margarethe, and their two sons Gustav and Jakob. Told from the perspective the latter son, this film observes life in the 19th century German countryside, and through the erudite mind of Jakob, considers the possibilities away from the immediacy of their environment – daring to dream that leaving home is something that could actually happen.
Perhaps a little overlong in its execution, Reitz’s prequel isn’t the greatest episode in the far-reaching series, but it does provide a sound, thought-provoking launch pad for the films that follow. The daunting length and size of Home from Home may be enough to stop you taking a chance on it, but if you bite the bullet and let the flood of monochrome images wash over you like a beautiful black and white wave, you might find yourself becoming fascinated by what capacious, auteur filmmakers like Reitz have to offer the medium. The Heimat series provides viewers with an expansive, absorbing cinematic world rivalled only by the likes of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Decalogue, and if Home from Home: Chronicle of a Vision nudges you towards the other episodes in Reitz’ series, it can only be considered a worthy film.
Home from Home: Chronicle of a Vision is released nationwide on 17th April 2015.
Watch the trailer for Home from Home: Chronicle of a Vision here: