In the Village

Amos Lassen

 In mid-19th century Germany, Jakob (Jan Dieter Schneide) lives in the village of Schabbach with his father, Johann (Ruediger Kriese), his mother, Margarethe (Marita Breuer) and his brother, Gustav (Maximilian Scheidt). He and his  family’s hope to escape their poverty by emigrating to Brazil which they see as the land of opportunity. As Jakob teaches himself by reading about life in the South American jungles by reading, he flirts with Henriette (Antonia Bill), a local girl who catches his attention. The events that transpire after Gustav returns home from the war and Jakob gets sent to prison for sedition deeply affect the dynamics between Jakob and his family. 

 Writer/director Edgar Reitz and co-writer Gert Heidenreich brings us the plot in a leisurely pace with plenty of powerful quiet moments and the use of symbolism. It takes patience to watch “Home from Home” but there is great rewards with a spellbinding character-driven that gets us emotionally invested in the characters’ lives from start to finish as we tensely wait to learn whatever happens to them next.

The black-and-white cinematography (with occasional glimpses of color) is stunning. Many shots are simply breathtaking in their beauty and lyricism. Nature together with human nature serve as important roles in the film, and Reitz wonderfully captures the essence of both. The essence of human nature is seen through the smart casting of talented actors, many of whom have no prior acting experience, yet everyone onscreen gives a very natural performance that pulls us in because of the humanism that we see. The film feels epic in scope while intimate in its humanism and even though it has a nearly 4-hour running,  I could  easily watched it for a longer time.

This is Edgar Reitz’s nearly four-hour envisioning of mid-19th-century Germany’s widespread poverty and national disillusionment. This is a prequel to Reitz’s series of exceedingly “Heimat” films. Through Jakob, we see a postmodern literary tradition where a psychopathic or abnormal male protagonist endures a series of allegorical trials as evidence of damning qualities of German society that have rendered him as such. The film mythologizes the time period as one of familial bond forged through regressive nationalism. When Jakob claims he can “close [his] eyes and go anywhere,” this is a full-blown allusion to the “no place like home” we so often see in which isolationist inclinations affirm one’s native country as a place of solace and refuge.

I found the film to be devastating in its emotional and intellectual impact. The film is gorgeous to watch and it puts in the spirit of the time and place and we suffer along with the villagers. The characters gradually come alive and take hold like real people do. It takes a while to get to know the characters but they get right into us and, we become completely involved in their fates.

 About Corinth Films

 Since 1977, Corinth Films has been distributing foreign and independent arthouse cinema to audiences in the US & Canada. Beginning with such classics as David Lynch’s Eraserhead and Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2, Corinth’s more recent releases have included films by up-and-coming international directors such as Nadav Lapid and Mika Kaurismaki, as well as acclaimed longstanding auteurs such as Mohsen Makhmalbaf , Edgar Reitz and Andrei Konchalovsky. As the film-viewing landscape changes, the desire for intellectually stimulating and entertaining films will not, and Corinth continues its mission to acquire and release undiscovered, international watch-worthy content. To discover and enjoy Corinth’s film releases, visit www.corinthfilms.com.

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