As we move into Episodes 3 and 4, Reitz begins to focus more on the changing lives of the individual families in the small village of Schabbach rather than the outside world. Also, as we discussed in class, the outside world, such as the radio and telephone, is increasingly pressing on the village. Not only is technology invading the Hunsruck, but people are moving in such as Lucie and Otto. Lucie, I believe, is an extremely important character and needs to be looked at more in depth.
We mentioned briefly in class how Lucie is a big city woman, evidenced by her loose dialect, and how Pauline is now a semi-urban woman. To continue the comparison, I would argue that Maria is representative of the village, Pauline of the small town (Simmern), and Lucie of the big city. For instance, when Lucie is “ill,” Maria explains to Anton that she has worries and when people from the city have worries, they go to bed. In the Hunsruck, people with worries go to work. As for Pauline, she lives a relatively easy life, helping Robert run the jewelry shop in Simmern. Maria, however, has to work in the fields, cook meals every day, and raise two children without a father. What could Reitz possibly be saying about each woman’s lifestyle? Is he offering a criticism of one? Which one do you think is “better”?
Another important event that we saw in Episode 4 is the construction of the highway. Throughout the episode, the highway brings in multiple new characters, such as Otto and Peiritz. When the pair are surveying the land for the new highway, Peiritz mentions that he sees “something warm in a cold place” when he sees Maria giving Mathias bread and wine in the fields. This comment could be taken as a lamentation from Peiritz, for the new highway could destroy the old way of life in Schabbach. The highway will bring in new people, ideas, and technology, changing the Hunsruck forever. In the end, is the highway beneficial for the people of the village? Or is it a threat to the way of life that Katharina and Mathias have lived for so long?
A complicated issue arises in the fourth episode, that of Otto and Maria. When Otto breaks his arm, Reitz uses a gentle colored light when Maria feeds Otto his eggs. Already Reitz is setting up the affair between Maria and Otto, and he continues when Maria and Otto dance together in the ballroom. As Maria becomes more and more involved with Otto, is she being faithful to Paul? Or is Paul’s leaving equal to a divorce? Just throwing it out there, what could the death-head ring that Otto has mean to him?
One big question that is on all our minds is Paul. Where is he? What is he doing? Will he return? In these two episodes, Reitz never flashes back to Paul. Maria is the only person to mention Paul. While sitting in Pauline’s home, Maria daydreams of going far away, leaving behind Schabbach and everything. Is she thinking of trying to find Paul, wishing she was with him still, or does she simply wish to get away?
One part of the two episodes we did not discuss was Hans and his role. First, we see Hans being told that he is a “born sharpshooter” by a Nazi soldier. From there, he shoots off the insulators on the telephone lines and is brought before Eduard, the mayor, to be dealt with. Eduard, in complete disagreement with the police officer, commends the boy for his great skill, conveying the lack of talent that Eduard has as a mayor. Are these series of scenes simple advancements of the plot, or do they hint at and foreshadow events to come?
In the middle of episode 4, Maria and Wilfried have a big argument over how to raise Anton and Ernst. Maria believes strongly in giving her children what they want, encouraging fun and exploration of new ideas. Her main concern is for them to “not be forced into situations due to circumstances” like her. What could she be referring to? Wilfried, however, is adamant about having Anton become a Nazi like himself, having necessary skills to make it in the world. Anton comments that he can’t even swim! Which path is better? Which path does Reitz seem to favor? Which path do you favor?