When Edgar Reitz made the Heimat film series in 1984 he created an incredible chronicle of German rural life in the 20th century. He went on to release another couple of mini-series, bringing events up to the modern era. At over 53 hours they were beautifully made and together are an epic saga of the Simon family and the village of Schabbach. He returns to familiar ground for this prequel, charting the fortunes of the same clan between 1840-1844, in Home From Home: Chronicle of a Vision.
Jacob (Jan Dieter Schneider) dreams of escaping the hard, oppressive and poor life in Schabbach by emigrating to the tropics. His father (Rüdiger Kriese), the local blacksmith, despairs that his son is stuck with his nose in a book whilst there so much work to do. His mother (Marita Breuer) on the other hand, is happy to indulge his daydreaming. He falls for Jettchen (Antonia Bill), the daughter of a mill owner, but they are fated not to be together. When his brother Gustav (Maximilian Scheidt) returns from war, a drunken night with Jettchen leads to her getting pregnant, whilst Jacob is arrested after his first brush with rebellion.
Home From Home: Chronicles Of A Vision is even more beautiful than its predecessor. Once again Reitz films in black and white, using the odd touch of colour to wonderful effect. At 231 minutes it’s a long film but it’s completely immersive and enthralling, never feeling stretched or dragging. Reitz encapsulates the era of discovery and period of hardship and poverty in tumultuous political times. More than any other European nation, Germany has an entrenched fascination with the lives of the common people. Home From Home: Chronicles Of A Vision is a stunning document of a snapshot in time of a rural family.