I greatly enjoyed our initial discussion of Edgar Reitz’s Heimat series on Tuesday, and have been thinking about it a lot since. When I prepared to lead class that day, I anticipated that we would have to work through some largely formal objections – the slow pacing of the series, the many amateur actors, etc. But clearly I underestimated you, because you rightly identified these characteristics as important elements of Reitz’s style. And while we may not have found a coherent answer for why he would use such a deliberately amateurish style, we’ve already made significant inroads into our analysis of the series, inroads that we will build on next week.
While talking to you, I did however notice that Reitz’s entire notion of “Heimat” was even more alien to you than I had anticipated. So for this week’s discussion question, I want to once again ask you to engage in some personal reflection. Share with us some concrete anecdote that epitomizes what “home” means for you. Did any of the events depicted in the first episode trigger memories of your own childhood? Something that made you think: “oh yeah, I did something like that too?” I realize the distance between rural Germany in 1919 and your own American upbringing in the 1990s is vast, but that’s the point: we’re trying to find common ground here. You can write about whatever you want, but be as specific as possible.
If this question strikes you as being too personal, here’s an alternate one. The title of Monday’s episode was Fernweh, which the English version renders competently as “The Call of Faraway Places.” The German term Fernweh is actually an antonym of Heimweh, meaning “homesickness.” As first year college students, you probably all have some understanding of what homesickness means. But what would it mean to literally be sick with longing for far-away places? Can you think of any non-Heimat related examples that would illustrate such a condition?