By Nick Cloud (’15)
Midori—Mykel—Olga—I greet you, my comrades! Yea, we have put them all to shame, have we not? My God, my God, but we have. Look upon us, ye low! Look, see how our spirits swell, tremble, with splendidness, see, we are arrayed in triumph, radiant more for the shadows below our eyes, sickliness and stasis of limb, which are of martyrdom, for we have made victory, victory of zeal unaccountable! Look and greet the fog, my friends, eye to its eye, for you have proven your selves’ worth and are unblemished.
We saw the feasts of the living and dead, aye, we watched living, we watched—Heimat! Fifteen and a half hours of Schabbach, from 1919–82, fifteen and a half hours of Maria, of Paul, of Eduard, of Wilfried, of Ernst, of Anton, of Anton, of Hermann, of Klärchen, of Lucie, of Otto, of Glasisch, of Häns, of Katharina, of Fritz, of Martina, of Apollonia, of Horst, of Gustav, of Marie-Goot, of Pauline, of Matthias, of Walter, of Madame de Gallimasch, of homemade sausage, of Mayor Alois, of Conneticut, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Delaware, Maryland, Maine, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont, Delaware, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, Iowa, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Minnesota, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Nebraska, Wyoming, Oregon, Washington, California, and Michigan, all the first part of the great chronicle. You who have all had Doctor Who marathons, you have not had our like, you have not had the like of Edgar Reitz.
And oh! Midori, Mykel, Olga, my friends, in hereafter times we shall recall, how when sleep came at us in sheets, we four, we stood mightily together and weathered it, though it drew down like a tide our eyelids’ portcullises, with prods and coughs we kept each other awake (or in some cases perhaps succumbed briefly, but were up soon enough afterwards): how, when overwhelmed utterly by the loneliness of so many lives passing, we stood side by side in a dark line, and our pride would not let us break down: how two days we sat together, carbon-copied the same short pleasant interactions, then at breaks drank carbonated lemon water: and we shall say—
But what is there to say? There is no end of it. There are no characters in Heimat, there are only the Schabbachvolk and their lives; and these do not have the easy escape of ending, mercifully, after two hours, but they go on, and on, and on, and we are made to go on with them.
(Midori) Indeed, Heimat 1 was quite the experience. As a writer, a reader, a television-watcher, I have grown acclimated to stories– those of the set up-plot-rising action-climax sort. It’s safe to say that most of us have. Heimat was completely different, a documentary of a family’s life through the years and generations. It was the purest kind of story– a story of the living, that inspired an enduring loyalty for the people. I say people, not characters, because they are beyond serving a purpose for the sake of furthering the plot. I also hesitate to say that the movie has no plot, because living is the plot, and watching these people live out their lives is a grand privilege that I know will stay with me always.