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Personalities, technique, Internet | Fortune, departure, dreams | Life | Heimat | Language | Women and men | Neuer Deutscher Film | Rhythm, motion, time, film | Digression, playfulness | Remembrance, past, guilt | Subjectivity, objectivity, art

Sender: rscholz@Informatik.Uni-Bremen.DE

Subject: Reitz portrait script
From: Raymond Scholz

Dear Reinder,

Fortunately I could 'decipher' my notes on the Reitz' portrait completely! Only the last note I made is mysterious to me, I wrote

Welt -- Kunst
        |   \
        |    \
        Thema \
               Form (Schöpfung von Menschen)
I have no clue what this should express. Next time I will use complete
sentences for my notes...

The notes are mainly in chronological order as they appeared in the
portrait. Quotations by Reitz are "double-quoted". Most of them aren't
literal, but the sense should be preserved. Things, that came to my
mind while watching the portrait and writing down the notes are in

The portrait itself was made at Reitz' home, probably last winter on
a nice day (outside it was snow-white). I think, it was said that
Reitz lives in an outskirt of Munich. The interior of his home was
friendly bright, a piano and many books or scripts could be seen. One
painting in his home 'hit me like a hammer': It was the famous
portrait of the artists, Fr. Cerphal showed to Juan on the attic of
the Fuchsbau! I'm starting to confuse fiction and reality (see the
notes about this theme)... We could also see Reitz surfing through the
Internet and taking a letter to a letter-box by bike. (These are rather
unimportant facts, I guess.)

As I warned you, the text is still written in German. I hope the
umlauts (I think that was the right term) will make their way through
the Internet...

Apperantly, I had my "translation day" yesterday... I've now finished
the translation of the Reitz portrait, I started in March. I think it
is almost understandable now. Will you or any native English speaker
take a look at it, to make real English sentences of it? I had some
problems with words I couldn't find in my dictionaries. These words
appear 'ticked', sometimes untranslated.

Den Lebenslauf zum Kunstwerk machen (Peter Buchka, 1996)

Screened on local TV station Bayern 3 on 02.11.97. Length: 45 min.

Personalities, technique, Internet:

Reitz' father was a clock-maker interested in telegraphy and radio techniques. [This is being reflected in the clock-maker Robert in "Heimat" and in the interests of Paul Simon. Also the "wedding telephon call" by Anton Simon can be taken as an example.]

Reitz himself is interested in technical achievements like film cameras, cinematic experiments. [Being reflected in the three young filmmakers Rob, Reinhard and Stefan and their technical experiments (VariaVision).]

"The Internet is the newest form of romanticism." [I didn't understand this statement completely, maybe Reitz means the manifold, playful, mythic character of the Internet. Reitz compares his interest in the Internet with his fathers interest in radio technique.]

Fortune, departure, dreams:

You're permanently in the quest of fortune, the fortune is always elsewhere.

Misfortune is clinging to existing things, situations. Fortune is the steady change, the departure to new horizons.

The dreams of a human being and the reality are in a process of steady comparison, where the dreams represent a self-made reality.

The departure is a permanent stimulus, the arrival itself not anymore. [This leads to a steady quest, restlessness.]

[These motifs are being reflected in Heimat and DZH, they can be seen as a leitmotif.]


"Life itself is an artwork, our mission is to integrate accidents in our plan of life. This is an artistic work." [Reitz himself makes artworks out of courses of life in Heimat and DZH. But he also regards everybody as an artist himself, as a creator of his personal course of life.]


"People speaking of Heimat are mostly the ones, who lost it."

Heimat isn't intact, doesn't represent an idyll. [By this, Reitz contradicts the common interpretation of the term 'Heimatfilm'.]

There is a hope for a human matter of course, which prevents the worst. [This creates a safety in the Heimat, which keeps you on the track of your life.]


A difference between Heimat and the previous films by Reitz was the usage of dialect. ["Die Reise nach Wien" is also located in the Hunsrück, but no dialect is being spoken. Dialect creates an authentic atmosphere, the spectator forgets more easily that he's watching a film, he gets a different approach to the characters.]

"The discovery of mother tongue was equivalent to the discovery of [my] narrative talent."

Women and men:

"Women aren't the better human beings, they often find a way through the jungle of life, preferable to the men's way."

Women can combine incompatible things.

A self-knowledge of the men can lead to a return to their mother / mother tongue. [This motif can also be found at Heimat and DZH.]

Neuer Deutscher Film:

One of the maxims of the Neuer Deutscher Film was the representation of private life.

The Neue Deutsche Film created a connection of personal stories with national history. [ A good proof for this thesis are the numerous references in DZH (see the web site). Another example is "Deutschland im Herbst" (several directors, Reitz among others), which focuses the events and the consequences of the Schleyer-abduction / Landshut-hostage and its impact on the life of individual people.]

"This century was a century of revolution and destruction." [Reitz regards himself as a 'destructor' of cinematic rules and themes.]

Rhythm, motion, time, film:

A the spectator of the film is being 'rhythmisized', the motion of this is the course of life. [Maybe this explains the fascination, the addiction to Heimat, DZH].

Personal life is hardly to categorise in contrast to the common life [contemporary history].

The lifetime is the most important category. [Reitz connects this point of view with his own past as a clock-makers child.]

"The reason for making a film may NEVER be the contemporary background, but NO film can originate without contemporary context." [So Heimat and DZH aren't exclusively films about the epochs they act in.]

Digression, playfulness:

Reitz' films have an epic art of narration, a high grade of detail.

Digression is being used as narrative element. [The high grade of detail in Reitz' films support this statement. Reitz' first films were characterised by a high dynamic and speed. He says, that he "formerly was an expert for speed and nowadays is an expert for slowness".]

Playing (or playfulness) gains an increasingly general importance, f.e. at film making. [Reitz admits that he became addicted to digression in his private life too, it gives him a feeling of wideness.]

Remembrance, past, guilt:

Not all things can be preserved only with remembrance. Museums, libraries keep past things. The arrangement of these things creates a new fiction, imaginary things and found things mix up to a new reality. [Reitz doesn't claim all things treated in his films to be real. He mixes up reality and fiction.]

"Past things can't be overcome." Reitz applies this on the term of guilt and says, that besides the three dimensions of space the dimension of time has to be regarded. In this space guilt can't be extinguished, it will always be representable by the dimension on time. [This very interesting point of view, which is conform to Einsteins theory of relativity, can be related with the discussion about the guilt of the German people during the time of the Third Reich.]

Subjectivity, objectivity, art:

A film must be used as an instrument for enlightenment. This is accomplished morally and subjective, because a film can't be objective.

A film serves as an instrument of perception. [This is not only true for the artist, it's also true for the spectator.]

An artist can't look away.

Formerly the beauty was art, today beauty conceals the truth. So beauty must be destroyed. [Reitz associates this with the ideals of the Neuer Deutscher Film and mentions the catchword 'Bürgerschreck' (may be translated with: nightmare of the people).]

The DZH website is a joint effort by ReindeR Rustema, Alan Andres and many others. Back to the main page.