Daily Archives: April 22, 1994

The Second Heimat

Reportedly the longest single film ever made, Edgar Reitz’s 13-part, nearly 26-hour “chronicle of a generation” (1992)–set in Munich during the 60s and only nominally a sequel to his 15-hour Heimat (1984)–mainly focuses on the experiences of one young man, a classical musician and composer named Hermann Simon (Henry Arnold) who moves from the small village of Shabbach (where Heimat was set) to find a new life and, echoing the title, a second home. Alternating masterfully between black and white and color, Reitz conveys a novelistic sweep as he deals with artistic and romantic ferment in 1960 and ’61 in the first two episodes, “The Time of the First Songs” and “Two Strange Eyes.” Among the other major characters are the hero’s best friend, a Chilean musician; a beautiful cellist they’re both drawn to; a lonely female law student; a couple of ambitious filmmakers; a jazz drummer; a crazed landlady and former singer; and two avant-garde composers. Reitz’s feeling for period and milieu are so good and his characters so rich and appealing one feels one could climb inside this movie and stay a long, long while. On the basis of the four hours I’ve seen so far, I suspect The Second Heimat offers the most comprehensive and persuasive grasp of the experience of the 60s we have on film, with the possible exception of Jacques Rivette’s nearly 13-hour Out 1, which has never been shown in the U.S.… Read more »

Knocks at My Door

Adapted from a successful play, this tense and effective Venezuelan political thriller (1992), directed with craft and discretion by Alejandro Saderman, follows the principled decision of a nun to shelter a fugitive from armed rebels during a state of civil war, the ambivalent cooperation she elicits from a fellow nun, and the price they both have to pay for their courage. Saderman sticks to the claustrophobic feeling I assume the original play had, while still conveying a detailed sense of the surrounding community, from mayor to bishop to shopkeeper. And wisely, he tends to veer away from close-ups when he wants certain dramatic points to register; indeed, many of this film’s finest moments–most of them related to the performance of Veronica Oddo, who plays the more committed nun–transpire in long shot. Three Penny, Saturday, April 23, 6:30; also Facets Multimedia, Monday, April 25, 7:00.… Read more »