'Heimat, Heimat, über alles': Heimat in two contemporary German films

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Less than a decade ago, a number of scholars began a renewed discussion of Heimat film with the confident assumption that they were speaking about a genre that was passé. These German language films about belonging and attachment to a place and community are almost unanimously condemned in academic circles, despite being consistently well received by the public. Regardless of their reception, Heimat films have experienced something of a renaissance since the 1990s and I would like to argue that the genre's recent resurgence is related less to birthplace or place in general, than to a sense of belonging derived from relationships with others and often enhanced by experiences, performances and spectacle. Discussion of two recent films, Tom Tykwer's Winterschläfer/Wintersleepers (X-Filme, 1997) and Sönke Wortmann's Das Wunder von Bern/The Miracle of Bern (Senator Film Produktion, 2003) will illustrate this point. However, they respond to different cues and forbears of the Heimat genre: Tykwer to the Bergfilm tradition and Wortmann to 1950s Heimat films which in turn mainly recreate folk tales. Both directors are inspired by the past, Tykwer reworks the Heimat genre critically for Wintersleepers, whereas Wortmann adopts it in this case seemingly with little reflection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-232
JournalStudies in European Cinema
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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