Film director: chronicler, poet and narrator: Edgar Reitz turns 90

Those who make films often approach the subject with meticulous research and imagination.

Film director: chronicler, poet and narrator: Edgar Reitz turns 90

Those who make films often approach the subject with meticulous research and imagination. With Edgar Reitz there is something else: his own experiences. Because he himself experienced some of the times that his films are about. All of our lives are shaped by time and place. "In this respect, when telling my fictional stories, I also see myself as a chronicler of the specific circumstances of the time," said the Munich-based filmmaker to the German Press Agency on the occasion of his 90th birthday on November 1st.

Reitz grew up in the Hunsrück, in Morbach. He came to Munich to study, where he switched from electrical engineering to German studies, theater studies, journalism and art history. He wrote poems and short stories and was a co-founder of the magazine "Spuren". Interests that also paved his way to film. Soon Reitz was directing and writing. He also took part in the 1962 Oberhausen Manifesto for a new German cinema, along with like-minded people like Alexander Kluge.

Acclaimed by audiences and critics

In the years that followed, films such as "Mahlzeiten", "Stunde Null" or the very complex and expensive film "Der Schneider von Ulm" were made. In 1984 followed what was probably his greatest success up to that point: the eleven-part television series "Heimat - Eine deutsche Chronik" ("Heimat - A German Chronicle") about a man who returns from the First World War to the fictional Hunsrück village of Schabbach. This was followed by the 13-part "The Second Home - Chronicle of a Youth" about students in the 1960s, "Home 3 - Chronicle of a Turning Point" with six parts, which also include reunification, and finally the movie "The Other Home - Chronicle a longing" about two brothers who want to emigrate from the Hunsrück to South America in the middle of the 19th century.

Reitz was celebrated by critics and audiences and received many prizes. That's why he wasn't in Venice again until the beginning of September. He received a special prize at the film festival - 30 years after his film epic "The Second Home" premiered there. On this occasion, he also commented on what home means to him today: "In our time, home is no longer a fixed place and no longer a personal possession, but a longing for the lost security of childhood".

Streaming as Chance

Reitz described the motivation for his work in an interview with the "SZ-Magazin" in 2013: "To make the ephemeral durable is for me the elementary reason for artistic activity". He sees streaming providers like Netflix as an opportunity. The demand for quality has grown enormously in the series offered by the video portals. "This is the only area where a new market, a new horizon for quality is opening up," he said a few years ago on the occasion of a retrospective at the Nuremberg Film House.

The German Film Academy made it clear that his works not only entertain, but are also of great social value when they presented the director with the honorary award in 2020. "Edgar Reitz invented unforgettably poetic people and images, above all with his "Heimat" films," was the reasoning. And he has shown that the "charged word "Heimat" is too complex" to be left to the "right-wing nationalists".

Reitz has plans, as he revealed in Venice: "A larger feature film project that I've been working on for more than ten years should only be tackled after my 90th birthday. Of course I hope to continue to use my creative powers to the full for that long to be able to use."