At the 26th of July VPRO its "TV/De Muzen" broadcasted an interviewportrait made by Frank Wiering about Edgar Reitz. After this broadcast a viewer wrote us the following: "Yesterday evening I was glued to my chair, fascinated. No time to pour coffee. This man is just a culture philosopher, what many of us feel and think, he puts cristle clear into words. I sat there on my own watching and several times I uttered out loud to him: Yes, Yes! Could you please consider making this interview into a text? I ask this because I think that it's very important what this man says, feels, thinks, sees."

Voilà, what follows is the transcription of that interview with Edgar Reitz, his Die Zweite Heimat will be broadcasted this Sunday and Sunday the 12th of September 1993 by the VPRO.

When did you start 'Heimat'?

The first 'Heimat'... In 1978.

For how long have you been working on it?

Five years.

And the second?

I've started in '85... And worked on it for seven years. What should I say about it? In 1985, during the shooting of the first 'Heimat', I've often asked myself: What should I do with my story in the city? I haven't lived in the countryside myself. I've been born in such a village though, and I lived there and went to school, but after that I've studied in Munich and lived in several cities. Now I produce films in Munich. My life is essentially a life in the city, not the country side. I noticed that the experiences with which I try to register a century of German history with the use of a village only constitute a limited part of my life. I made many notes at the time. In 1984, after the première of 'Heimat', I retired and started writing down those stories and complete them. I had the feeling: I make a series of lovestories titled 'Men and women'. I had the idea to describe lovestories in our century. But after about a year I noticed that most of them had to do with the sixties. Especially in those years the theme of sexual liberation was the issue and the discussion about the old traditional frameworks for relations. It was such an explosive era. What you experienced at the time took so many foundations away that I concentrated on the stories of that time. Along the way a lot of material came up. I always like to write little notes. I write designs on a paper sheet or little notes. After that I tried to find what those designs had in common.

...'Die Zweite Heimat'

That's the story of Hermann and his friends in the sixties. That was on the 12th of October 1985. That day I took a sheet of paper and wrote on it: 'Die Zweite Heimat', and the date. I pinned that to a wall and said: That's my new project. Then I started the scenario.

Did you know that it would be 3000 pages...

I did know it would be long. I had made a long story before, so I knew what it would mean to work in these dimensions.

Is that something to get scared about?

No, the opposite. It relaxes me to tell such a long story. I know I will have years of rest. I don't have to show up, don't have to deal with critics and I don't have to listen to the opinion of others. I can concentrate for years in working out my thoughts. That's a happy business. In such a period you know why your on the earth. You know that life has a purpose and that you have a task. It's a big challenge because I know that all depends on me in that time. The story stands of falls with me. There are no influences from outside, if something fails I can't blame somebody else. That's a big challenge. In that way you have to ask the utmost from yourself. This changes your way of life. You have to ask yourself: if I drink to much tonight, won't I make a bad scene tomorrow? Or: if I smoke to many cigarettes, will I persevere physically? I quit smoking. I also ended that nightlife in the filmbusiness. I forced myself to sleep normally and sufficiently, and started to do some sports. I go everywhere by bicycle, then I'll be in shape to persevere this project. Everybody knows what it means to make a feature film. It takes three, four months. But seven years, that's a completely different dimension. Then you really reach all limits to which you are tied as a human being. That demands also all those consequences. You complete hand yourself over to that film. Yes, you don't have another task in your life.

(A fragment from 'Die Zweite Heimat' follows in which the main characters pass by during a garden party.)

Edgar Reitz: In five minutes of film I have tried to visualise all connections between those characters in the atmosphere of summernight. Those are my favourite scenes.

When you make something like that it takes six weeks to write it and weeks to prepare and stage it. Because innummerable thoughts are put in it the result may not be too heavy. It has to be very light, asif it's just nothing. Evidently. I think it's a lesson for the eye what's being tried there. Our eyes wear out. The media offer us images again and again, we drown in images. We get an inflation of images, and because of that we unlearn to see. With regards to seeing we are illiterate. We can't read with our eyes. We can't understand the world anymore. Our eyes are more used than our ears, because it's too chaotic. It's being tried to sell us something by visual impressions. We shouldn't understand, we should buy. This happens non-stop and because of that we are not able to start something usefull with our impressions, or that what our eyes experience. We are actually speachless, if I can say it like that. I think that filmart has the task to slowly and gently learn us to see again. A school for the eyes. Such a sequence as I just have shown, if you understand that you can see again. Only by watching intensively, by a certain sensitivity you can feel along and think along with what you see. Normally, such an attempt is futile since most of what is offered to us is incoherent. If we would try we would end up in a dead end street. Then it's actually incomprehensible. The world is actually idiotic, pointless and disguised, but in filmart it opens itself up again. That's how I would like to put it.

(Next fragment: Clarissa in a hospitalbed. She tries to read a book.)

Edgar Reitz: Something like this for example. We move in very extreme dimensions, also with the camera. The shots of her eyes, her hairs, the text she reads and pronounces... That family in the room, the citing of those colours. That's an attempt to describe a microcosmos. Which contains all spiritual atmospheric circumstances of the state she's in, the net in which she's caugth. It doesn't have the self-evidence of the previous scene.

Self-evidence, how do you mean?

That you can also not notice it. That it has a big poetic or literary quality to it. It must every once in a while. That's why I show this example. Again and again it needs to be done.

It must?

Yes, it must.

The world is not that simple. You can't put it under such a simple label.

I try hard. I would never say something complicated in a film if it could also be done simple. I find it very important that develop my art, my storytelling art in such a way that I'm able to say complicated things simply. For most connections in the world there's a simple answer and a simple language. Who artificially erects problems does not offer an artistic achievement. An artistic achievement is always a form of reduction. To find a natural simple form and language. But every once in a while you encounter things, events, subjects you can't simplify. Then they become forged. By doing so they would lose their meaning. If, for example, I use a certain colour in certain scenes, brown and red, and I continue, then I start to think: What does that brown signify, or that red? In art you're always faced with the problem of repetition. Each time you use an element, you'll encounter this. You'll repeat this element each time and will try to say more with it than initially. Like in music. All compositions assume a theme is being used. It gets reverted, mirrored, variated. You can smash it have elements return. It's always like that, in painting, literature and film. In the scene I just showed the film reflects itself. In it we describe Clarissa lying that hospital room, in bed, reading a book. And in this book she encounters herself again. Because in 'Mann ohne Eigenschaften' from Musil there's also a Clarissa. This person is a stranger to her, but some properties are familiar, so she alienates from herself. She reads what Musil writes about the colour of the eyes of Clarissa the novel character. That makes her think about the colour of her own eyes, her hair colour. In the image in which she looks up from the pages of her book she still sees her own hairs. She hears the familiy in the background celebrating christmas. The sounds of the baby and of the big children who unwrap the presents. This mingles with the novel. The colours of the christmas presents, the paper and the ribbons come back in the text she's reading.

A certain virtuosity shows when dealing with these matters, to play with it in virtuous way. That's a moment in the film I find highly rewarding. It's one or two minutes of pure filmart. It's also a moment one should allow oneself. I don't make such a film just for the people, but also for myself. Something needs to be in it that complies to my highest standards. That's why I show scenes like these ones, because those are the moments I've challenged myself the most as a cinematographer.

Could you say that something metaphysically is happening?

No. What happens is logical. The material with which I've been working for months, reveals itself at once in a logical entirety, so to speak. It's actually a moment of an extraordinary widening of consciousness. You need to have a clear mind for that. You need to develop the ability to see at once all that you've done as a whole.

And such a moment suggests itself suddenly?

While you're working, yes. The making of a film is a very concentrated labour, very exhausting also. You sleep very little in those weeks. You're dreaming every night of the work you're doing. Beyond that you've got no private life other occupations. For months everything that happens only has to do with it. The consequence is that on one day you're so deep into the story, you know this precisely what you're doing, and therefore you can make such a scene.

To do so you have to write for three years, shoot for two years, and then suddenly, on the 12th of August or something, it suddenly happens. Than you find yourself on the point where all lines come together. This applies to other things also off course. The longer you're busy with something, the better you become. Than you know so much about what you're doing that certain questions never arise like: How should it continue? How should we solve this? For everything an answer has been found. What remains is a big flow of duties and activities.

Thus the story writes itself?

Exactly. And besides that, the story resists against wrong solutions. I often experience this, I read something in the newspaper and think: What a good idea, I can make it into something. But when I try, I doesn't work. The characters don't accept it and wrong words and movements come out. Then I have to throw it away. Already at the shooting and during the rehearsels with the actors I notice that the character isn't real anymore, has no character anymore. Suddenly they merely serve to say something. They don't follow the path of their own life. Take the stories like they're told in the big novels, and in all beautiful films of the world. In them the characters live themselves. They start their own lives and don't need the writer anymore. The writer has brought them to life, but after a while also the author is just a bystander. He knows precisely what they want. I have often dreamt what they wanted. And the next day I would know. You don't ask yourself how you should deal with a certain scene. I've often written the dialogues in five minutes, because I knew precisely what they could or could not do or say. Give me a situation and I know how they behave. That's because they have their own lives.

There's a life outside the world. There exists a fictious world with the same rules as life. If you have a woman who you love and know well, then you know exactly what she will do or won't do. If you let her do something in your mind, then you'll know precisely if it's her or not. It's like that with made up characters too. They become just as alive. You have to reach that point and this comes only after months of work. And you have to keep checking. You've got the will of the writer, who wants to say or tell something, and the will of the character that slowly emerges. First they go up equally and then they move apart. In the begining everything is determined by the will of the writer. Gradually the character gets it's own will and withdraws. Then you notice as a writer that you're an ordinary spectator and not the maker anymore.

Do you know that this is coming?

You want it to come. That's the happy moment when the characters get to life and leave. They're just like childeren that detach themselves from their parents.

(A scene follows in which Hermann plays the piano on a sultry attic, with Marianne, Dorli and Helga meanwhile looking up to hem in eager admiration.)

Reitz: Hermann plays live, that's important. For all important characters this is important. Music plays a big role in this film, and all actors that play music also have a musical education. Such a scene is at same erotic and comic. There's a bit of a comic atmosphere, but that scene is actually mathematically made. It's being carefully planned like music or a technical instrument. You have to plan, construct and film it carefully. The result has feeling. That's the only way I think. You can't make films with feeling. Feeling is no instrument you work with. You have to know the feeling, understand it, translate it. You have to know what you want to describe, disassemble and reassamble. That's no rational, analytical knowledge, with your head, but knowledge through experience. You know it by remembering it. You also control it with your memory. The moment I make something and I close my eyes I remember it, then I know wether it's good or wrong. In my memory I'm free. I can dismantle it, chop it into pieces and put it together again. Like you can't ever completely dispose of live. Suppose you have to write a curriculum vitae. I'm going to apply somewhere and I write a curriculum. Then I ask myself: What did I do in my life? At the moment of writing I order my life anew. That's a creative act. The truth doesn't exist. The original truth might be behind it as fiction. But the memory is always something creative. Elements from your memory you order anew.

Do we distort the truth?

Yes, actually. The truth does exist, but you can't possess it. You can't use the truth. Truth, that's a general philosophical remark. Truth is always a process, is always in motion. The moment I stop that motion and say: 'That's the truth' it's no longer the truth anymore. But when you can describe the truth in motion, you can also say the truth. Or: say truths.

Such a film also has to do with truth. The truth about people. About their life and about the time in which they're living. We're all stuck to place and time in our life. That determines everything in our life. You can't transfer that to another time or place. A story of a life is no longer true in another place or in another time. That's a big mistake often made with historical movies, also by TV-movies when one thinks that problems of now can be transferred to another time. Such attempts mostly fail. That has been very important for me. Those people from the sixties, that mostly live in Munich, could have only lived there and then. If they get a general significance, it's only because the spectator involves his own life with it. You draw an anology. But with film and art you're just as tied to place and time as in life. In art you also have destiny. You also die in a certain body. You can't detach yourself from that. But we've drifted away from the quest to truth.

(Scène in the house of Hermann en Schnüßchen, where all kinds of hip characters nestled. Hermann and Schnüßchen are having a blazing fight about that.)

Reitz: And I'll also show the most beautiful image from the film. Look, Reinhard and Esther in Venice. Now it comes: He's walking across a flooded San Marco-square. The whole nature played a part also: I write a flood in the script, and there was a flood on the day of the shooting. In Venice every so many years a disaster happens when the whole town gets flooded. This usually happens in November, in the autumn. But you can't go there and say: I wan't to see a flood. There are directors, especially of documentaries, who belief in that. When the camera goes there, it happens. I also belief that. You find this with Joris Ivens, and others. You have to try constantly to live in harmony with your work and with nature and the world. The moment I start off with a commercial attitude, or with the will to achieve something, it never happens. But when I work with the attitude: Everything that happens is possible and might end up in the film, then what's in the scenario happens. That's the funny thing about it. I go to Venice to film this and it's evident that it happens, even onthe day it should happen. And I shoot the scene asif it's very normal.

When 'Die zweite Heimat' was broadcasted in Germany criticism emerged. What happened?

Because of the broadcast by German TV, which had to compete with many private TV-channels, we realised for the first time how strongly the medialandscape has changed. It was know at the time, but it was never so apparent because what was being broadcasted until then didn't have such a high quality. 'Die zweite Heimat' received international prizes. The film had been praised by all critics in Europe and in advance celebrated for it's very high quality. But the broadcasts only attracted five percent of the viewers. Then the question arose: Why is that? Different people gave different answers. There's a, let's call it, commercial wing. They are the television guides of large publishers that also make television. Almost all large publishers are involved in private television. All products and magazines of those publishers started cursing at that film. What reaches so few people, can't be good. Also Der Spiegel (German national Time-like magazine, RRR) and other magazines have put the film in a dishonest way in a bad perspective.
The only argument they came up with was that it supposedly had been disappointing that is was only 5%. Actually they were delighted. On the other hand, 5% of the Germans is still two milion people. If two milion people had gone to the cinema to see it, it would have been a splendid success.

Your opponents said: This is television only for the intelligentsia.

What bothers me, is that word 'only'. You could also think about the role of the intelligentsia in society. Looked upon in an utopian way, it should be: Intelligentsia has nothing to do with intelligence, the talents that God gave us, but with the schools we attended. The fact that people differ comes from the fact that they have different social backgrounds. That explains the difference in intelligence as well. But this has been ordered by Fate. So, regrettably, it is most people's fate that they cannot belong to the intelligentsia, since their education doesn't allow them to, and because they have been economical outsiders since their very childhood. This is an abuse, but one that is becoming a prevailing standard nowadays. If you say: "95% of the people" (meaning populace) - you're uplifting a crying abuse to a standard. The fact that the figure is 95%, should make you think.

The struggle against illiteracy should be high on the political agenda.
Because an illiterate people is almost what we are. This can be seen also in the way our reading-culture developes itself. Anyone in the publishing trade can tell you people read less and less. Even in a highly industrialised country as Germany the number of true illiterates is growing. People who can spell their own name but can hardly read the word Coca Cola.

The only word that they need.

That's putting it very cynical. But the development goes that far. This is off course an extreme case. But the media, like television, contribute to make the people illiterate. It deals with the ability to read and to write, to express yourself textually and because of that also orally. Our language would have never achieved the same cultural level if it wouldn't have been for the written word. Thanks to that there is literature, and literature gives the spoken language a cultural basis. This all goes lost. It gets lost because of that purely material thinking. Consumptive thinking also in the reverse meaning: For the mediamakers the program is only decoration for the advertising. Advertising is the real reason. The real goal. And the program, the 'editorial', only serves the advertorising message. And therefore the spectator is finally merely a consumer. It is entertainment in the meaning of true consumption, with what applies to most consumergoods: Once you've bought them, they're worthless. That's why the society produces practically nothing but junk. Stuff we can't leave behind for our children.Only throw away. A TV-set, a VCR, a car - everything on which we spend our money is dumpwaste after five years. Ready to dump. The things we think of to make stuff that's all junk. We produce nearly nothing that we can leave our children. Nearly all TV broadcasts are worthless the next day, or even the moment the next commercial appears. That's the throw-away society, and in this society a 95 percent-society evolves). It's in an emergency situation.

I don't want to claim that 'Die zweite Heimat is something for everybody, but certainly for more than that five percent, vor many more people. What has gotten into those people? Are they made mentally ill, or damaged by the consumptionsociety and the TV, so that they're not able to enjoy something like this anymore. It shows an emergency situation, or a lack of education, but this isn't viewed like this off course. In the public discussion they turn it around, and assuming those five percent the say: There's something wrong with that film. It's the fault of that film. It would appear as dangerous to me when that 5% which they call intelligentsia is named some kind of ethnic minority. In a TV-debate - which I was forced to join - it's been said: 'This is a minorityprogram'. So, as soon as you tell a natural story, in a natural language which deals with truth, the viewers are a minority. Just like the homosexuals, the jews, the Turks (an immigrant minority in Germany and the Netherlands, RR), and you name them. The minorities in society. That's disastrous. Because you're going to exclude people like that. Certain people are declared minority and ethnically excluded. The next step is that one - because this always happens with minorities - thinks: Actually we can do without them. It would be better if they weren't there. The jews gone, the Turks gone, the intellectuals gone. And we've been through that before.

(Starts a filmfragment from Antonioni's L'avventura. Clearly civilised people move around rather helplessly on an hostile rocky island.)

Reitz: What happens there between men and landscape is a memorable scene from filmhistory. The clashing of civilisation and nature. That's still the society not completely aware of the fact that she's producing junk. And yet you feel how remote they stand from nature. How vulnerable and helpless thes people are with all their civilisation. A world that has just stopped believing in progress. That just started to lose control of nature. Only the smallest thing has to happen, and they're lost. They're people with a good income. But suddenly nothing can help them anymore. No motorboat, no telephone, no social ties. Nothing helps anymore. One only feels that the landscape, the nature is something which doesn't accept men anymore. There's friendship anymore between nature and men. That's what I see reflected in this mood. Like it's filmed. A piece of lost 'Cinecittà'-world outside the studios, there where nothing functions anymore. Nobody except Antonioni depicts as intrusively the feeling of life in the sixties, before 1968. Before the so called sexual revolution and before the big political protestactions that is; in a time when one intellectually already distanciated from society, but actually still pursued bourgeois ways. A growing feeling of loneliness. Everybody lost in his own soul. Every man a loneley, isolated being. That feeling of loneliness is very strong with Antonioni.

And with 'Die zweite Heimat'

That has been a big theme of the sixties. In the big cities, with all their comfort and the hope for a technologically better functioning future, men gets more lonely. In art it played just as strong as the environmental issues now. In art nowadays it's all ecology that sets the tone. Back then loneliness was the theme. And with the characters from 'Die zweite Heimat' it's a dominating theme. And off course the desire to overcome it. Eventually also through politics. The studentmovement, the protestmovement of '68. That has been an attempt to break through that loneliness. They sought social contacts in social and political tasks. It has been a matter for students, children from well to do circles, the went on the streets.

(There follows the scene in a villa, in which the shootings for a film get bogged down because the crew wants to put the whole working method to a discussion.)

Reitz: the question is: One director or a collective? It was a time full of contradictions. On the one hand the new, the opportunity to rethink all thoughts anew. To ask all questions anew, a feeling thateverything was possible. Everything could become new. At the same time it was a time that checkmated itself intellectually, that intellectually always blockaded itself. From both sides. And nobody could take a great step without having permanent question marks set down there next to it. It actually ended up with a 'bureaucratizing of the spirit,' without you knowing why. That is the contradiction. The tragic aspect. Great energy and great counter-energy. In the same generation, in the same heads. That is what I try to flesh out here. With these people. It is anything but pleasant. It is a wound for us all. We had to bury great expectations in that time. It was all about the question: What is a team? What is a director? What can the individual artist do, and for what is a team necessary? Given the thematics of my film, that was an important question. How was I, alone, to find the answers for a generation? I wanted to let all the team members think along and help to tell the tale. I am a filmmaker who consciously applies his means. In my opinion we have here to do with a great tradition, with a language that has its own grammar and has shaped its own great examples. I honestly don't wish to imitate them. In general I copy nothing. This only makes it clear to me that you must look very intensely and consciously in making films. And that you must think long over each image before you can say 'yes.' Not one story is comprised of surface and foreground alone. It is always many layers, one over another. A film scene is like a painting built up out of many layers. And then the secret appears. The secret is not really understandable. But I think: Life itself, that which we call life, that is and remains a secret for us. And if we want to reach the point where a film is an image of life, that the onlooker has the feeling of seeing something of real life, then you must continually feel the secret too, and you must continually wake it. Never will you be able to point to it and say: That is the secret of life. But you must know that it is there. That an element hides behind it.

What is the inexplicable?

What is left over once we have sought out all explanations. When we have had all the explanations that are possible. What then remains is the unexplained, or the inexplicable. That is very important. You may not say: I am now making a great secret, simply by not putting any questions, or by laying down a curtain of smoke and covering everything in darkness, or by not putting the final questions and saying: There are so many great secrets in the world. To do so is simply banal. The secret is what is left over. The last.

(Reitz starts up a fragment from Bergman's 'Fanny and Alexander' in which reality is obedient to Alexander's youthful fantasy.)

Reitz: Enchantment is important your whole life long. For Bergman in his films and for me too. But I don't believe that that is so unusual. I see that in every filmmaker that I find good. Take Buñuel for example. His whole life is full of this sort of thing. Just look at what happens in 'Belle de Jour.' Or in 'Viridiana' or that sort of film. When you say that and I think for a moment of 'Die Zweite Heimat,' has then the enchantment of the sixties come to a halt? No, absolutely not. That will never really stop. We are now again living ina time that longs for it terribly. We have only unlearned how to deal withit. Now you have these people that busy themselves with spiritism and newage and so forth. That is pseudomagic. That, in our present-day society of consumption, is the quickest solution. You buy a couple of tarot cards or apendant or something, or you do this and that with foot-sole reflexes. All those things serve only to deal with it in a quick way. But you don't get it for nothing. Magic is not an article for consumption. You don't get it in a specialty shop. Now there are even these new age stores, where you can by the clothes and so forth. But what comes to expression in that? What you see there is the great need and the inability to seek. To me it looks like a tribe of aborigines that can neither read nor write and that collect books to pray to them. But they can't read. That more or less is how these people handle poetic knowledge. They pray to it, when they would do better to learn how to read. How do you find enchantment, when it comes? In every artistic work, poetry, magic, enchantment is a theme. Or the secrets of life are in some way handled. It is one of the themes or tasks of art to open up the view of the world, and this we do through the use of a different language than that of science. We do it in an associative way. The personal experiences of the public, the audience, or the reader of a book, or of somebody who looks upon a painting, together with the memories that he carries with himself, are set in motion by the work of art. In this way the encounter with the work becomes an observation of himself. You get a key to your inner workings, to the secrets of your own soul. That's where the message is actually hiding. The work itself gives no answer whatever, but the observer gives himself answers. The work gives him time and again the key to unlocking those secret rooms.

(A fragment from 'Une histoire de vent,' by and with Joris Ivens, follows.)

Reitz: Joris Ivens wants to film the wind. They sit in the desert and wait for the storm for weeks. Nothing happens. Then one of the Chinese men says that he knows a woman that can make wind. To do so she needs two ventilators. He has them brought in, though he does not believe in magic spells. He sends somebody to the city who comes back with these two blue ventilators. There is no electricity. They are set down. The woman draws magic symbols...

Ivens: ' The sand must come from everywhere. The sky must fall and the clouds must race around. I don't know what I'm supposed to do with this silence. I want everything in motion, so that the desert becomes one great chaos.'

Reitz: Ivens became ever more beautiful as he got older. I have never seen an old man that became more and more beautiful... That is magic. He believes that the twentieth century ends in magic. As an answer to rationalism. And that he says as someone who was a communist his whole life long. And there comes the wind. There is the miracle. The desert moves. Just look how beautiful he is. And the ventilator is turning. It's all so logical and simple. Here again is what I have said: There is a perfectly banal explanation for it. That is the wind. Ivens was really an angel. Among all the people that have made films, he was an angel. He had the lightness, the poetry too. His whole existence was poetry. The beautiful thing was that that poetry always moved in reality... it didn't lift itself up into one or another pseudo-world, but always consciously checked itself against reality. A poetry of reality. That is binding in my life.

How do you mean?

It is only a question of creative power whether a life has poetry or not. Poetry does not come into existence by itself. Many things come from themselves. Our entire social life is a function of our nature. Not poetry. Poetry stands out above human nature and is a step in the process of becoming human, in autonomy, the independence of your character. The important thing is that poetry remains a part of life, just as in fact it always was. When people began to make songs and poems, to sing and dance and paint, that had a direct bearing on their daily lives. Originally. Not until later did something like an industry of culture come into being. Culture as an autonomous branch. That is unnatural. In this way culture distances itself from the source. In a world full of specialization, we cannot change that: There are bridge builders and there are poets. That is something very different. Though they could certainly go quite well together. That was also the idea. In the realm of film we can can still cleave tight to reality. Other art forms can easily drift away from it. Who can have a painting or other famous work of art in his house and live with it? That is only possible in galleries or museums, or art dealerships where they are sold at high prices. That holds true for music as well, being performed in concert halls. When you go to the Concert Hall, you put yourself into another world, the world of culture. The same is true when you go to the opera, or the theatre. Not with film. Whoever goes to the cinema, remains in the world. Film is still worldly. Wherever it leaves the world, in film houses and museums, it is an exception. Film turns back into the world and drags poetry out. Joris Ivens was such a person. He had two sides. He was a real magician, a conjurer, a man that dedicated his life to poetry and at the same time was possessed by an unbelievable social realism. And rationalism. Yes, rationalism. That is an absolute ideal. I respected him like a father. I loved him immeasurably.

Did you know him?

Yes. Just before he died, I saw him a few times. I still have contact with his wife Marceline Loridan. That meeting was very important for my life. Between 'Heimat' and 'Die Zweite Heimat' I saw him often. I told him about my ideas, and I was quite proud. In 1984 he saw 'Heimat.' Sixteen hours in the cinema was a lot for an old man, he said.

Did you know Antonioni?

I only got to know him very late. He was already ill. I could still say what he has meant to me, but he could no longer reply. I'd like to dedicate a silent film to Antonioni.

Is that possible, a silent film?

I don't know. I don't know if anyone would pay for it either. That's the inconvenience with film, it costs so much money. It should be like writing or painting. That you just have to do it. That would be much nicer. Perhaps it ties us to reality that we always have to find our means.

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