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Heimatfilme denotes a film genre that is associated with this term in the entire German-speaking area . Today, a distinction is often made between “old” and “new” or “traditional” and “modern” Heimatfilms, with the late 1970s being the limit mostly .

Traditional Heimatfilms are often set in rural regions, in an “ideal world”, with themes such as friendship , love , family and life in the village and small-town community predominating. Modern Heimatfilms, on the other hand, counter this with a blunt, sometimes harsh portrayal of these conditions. These often play against a historical background. Traditional homeland films are now often perceived as trivial, while modern homeland films are seen as "closely observing, human touching contributions to contemporary history". In their entirety, critics see Heimatfilms as “entertainment junk and author's art” at the same time.

To the subject

The genre name Heimatfilm replaced the term folk film used since 1919 in the 1950s . The term Heimatfilm is documented for the first time for the years 1933/34. Here it served as a categorization for the Ganghofer films Die blonde Christl and Schloss Hubertus . To classify the film Der Geigenmacher von Mittenwald , which premiered in 1950, the critics once again resorted to the term folk film , but in the same year the film producer Peter Ostermayr spoke of " Heimatfilm as his profession". The Northwest German Unitas Filmverleih , which mainly sold Heimatfilme at the beginning of the 1950s, used this term for films from Ostermayr's production in its 1952/53 season brochure. In the period that followed, the term Heimatfilm was also used for other similar films and eventually developed into a genre term.

History and characteristics of the traditional homeland film

As early as 1910, the first film adaptations of local novels by the then popular Ludwig Ganghofer or adapted hearty cocks were made . These already showed characters and scenarios that were still used decades later, such as the dashing hunter, rebellious peasant daughters, the wise old servant, the exotic townspeople, conflicts between hunters and poachers, unhappy love between farm heir and maid, as well as rustic taverns and Chapels.

These early Heimatfilms also received important impulses from the mountain films by the Palatinate director Arnold Fanck . In his films such as The White Hell from Piz Palü (1929) or Storms over Mont Blanc (1930), the mountains served as a backdrop for dramatic and pathetic storylines, which means that these spectacular nature shots exerted a significant influence on the homeland films that had hitherto been more chamber drama- like . Luis Trenker and Leni Riefenstahl also began to incorporate landscapes symbolically as a framework for their films. The National Socialist cultural policy met such a mysticism of nature, which was either instrumentalized or consciously promoted. Luis Trenker in particular knew how to idealize the world of his homeland and the mountains and to counter this with the decadence of cities and city dwellers. An example is the film The Prodigal Son from 1934. The protagonist escapes the narrowness of the Tyrolean mountains by emigrating to America. But he can't get by in New York. At the time of the Great Depression he wanders through the high-rise canyons of this big city, unemployed and starving. The protagonist does not encounter sympathy, but indifferent liberalism and exploitative capitalism. Plagued by remorse and homesickness, he is finally drawn back home.

From the late 1940s, the genre continued to develop in West Germany. The heyday of German and Austrian Heimatfilms began in the 1950s. Above all, the great success of Der Förster vom Silberwald in 1954 heralded the massive success of the Heimatfilm after the war. Untouched and idyllic landscapes, such as alpine meadows , valleys and mountain slopes, but also the northern German heathland, served many people as a projection and imagination surface after the war. Urbanity , urban dreariness, everyday worries gave way to the seemingly simple, innocent and eternal. By 1960 alone, more than 300 Heimatfilms had been made, often based on a similar pattern. Heimatfilme offered support that many people longed for after the severe destruction in the war and total defeat. The social consequences of the war such as orphaned families, loss of values, flight and displacement were also dealt with with idyllic counter-images, which enabled viewers to take a short journey into the ideal world of Heimatfilme. The Heimatfilm also showed the supposedly traditional way of life with traditional costumes and typical regional farmhouses, which in reality, due to the economic miracle and the associated modernization, was disappearing.

Many homeland films from the 1950s and 1960s were, however, direct remakes of UFA films from the National Socialist era. The material of these often trivial films was classified as harmless by the Allied Control Council in 1947 and released for remake. Film critic Hans Günther Pflaum commented on the success of the Heimatfilm: “I believe that the success of the Heimatfilm of the 1950s is related to the destruction of the World War. People longed for an ideal world, for something that was intact. (...) People's longing to experience something intact - clean water, blue sky, flowering meadows - can be called stuffy. But it is absolutely legitimate. ”He particularly emphasizes German refugees and displaced persons who, after losing their homeland, longed for projection surfaces, which is reflected in films like Grün ist die Heide .

Traditional homeland films usually focus on local authorities such as doctors, foresters, pastors, innkeepers or mayors. Good and bad are neatly separated, conflicts are often about inheritance disputes or poaching , the plot is mostly predictable, but is complicated by retarding moments . These films always feature people who are deeply in love with each other and who are prevented from being happy for a long time by external obstacles such as differences in class, hostility of parents, intrigues or unfortunate circumstances. However, through some incident, the separation is finally overcome, so that there is a generally conciliatory happy ending .

In his standard work on traditional Heimatfilm, The German Heimatfilm 1947–1960, Willi Höfig names significant features of the genre. This includes for him landscapes that were largely spared from World War II and urbanization, such as high mountain landscapes , Lower Bavaria and the Alpine foothills , heathlands , the Salzburg and the Salzkammergut , the Lake Constance and the Black Forest and the Rhine - and Mosel areas .

Cultural contrasts are also an essential feature for him, including the contrast between town and rural areas , between tradition and progress , generation conflicts and the contrasts between Bavaria or Austria and Prussia.

In the mid-1960s the wave of homeland films subsided. In the 1970s, new Ganghofer adaptations brought about a brief renewal of the traditional Heimatfilm. These films, however, were already bitter than their predecessors in the 1950s. Also at this time by the had sex wave influenced bavarian porn successful, where the atmosphere of a hearty peasant theater recurrent lived.

In the GDR, too, films were made in the 1950s and 1960s that, although not to be equated with the homeland film itself, can be compared. Often these films are dominated by socialist propaganda.

As a successor to the Heimatfilme you could watch TV series such as Die Schwarzwaldklinik , Schlosshotel Orth or Forsthaus Falkenau . Here too, authorities and clichés are used. At the same time, elements of the US soap opera are added.

Today the Heimatfilm is viewed by film scholars and critics as a typically German-Austrian or German-speaking genre and also as a kind of “German Western”, as it is the only film genre that Germany, Austria and German-speaking Switzerland have produced and that it outside of them Countries so hardly exist. Works by directors Franz Schnyder , such as Uli der Knecht , and Kurt Früh, are among the classics of Swiss Heimatfilm. The numerous film adaptations by Johanna Spyris Heidi are among the most popular Swiss fabrics , although the exact genre depends on the respective cinematic implementation.

History and characteristics of the modern homeland film

Although there were a few outliers in the 50s and 60s that did not correspond to the kitschy image of the classic Heimat film, such as roses bloom on the Heidegrab (1952) or hot harvest (1956), both by Hans H. König , but only just beginning In the mid-1970s, a large number of films were made that tried to show the conditions in mountain and agricultural areas at the time. There were also influences from German auteur films , whose directors, such as Reinhard Hauff , Herbert Achternbusch , Rainer Werner Fassbinder , Oliver Herbrich , Werner Herzog and Volker Schlöndorff, countered traditional Heimat films with downright anti-Heimat films that show narrow-minded, violent or exploitative conditions. to which the protagonists are powerless. Hans Günther Pflaum sees it as a conscious attempt by young directors to “brush the genre against the grain, to focus more on reality, on poverty and dirt”. The film adaptations of the three novels by Ludwig Thoma should also be mentioned here, which, although published in the early 20th century, were made into films late. The film adaptations of Der Ruepp , Andreas Vöst and Der Wittiber are close to Thomas' template and show unsentimental rural life in the German Empire.

From the 1980s on, Heimatfilme became increasingly differentiated. Many were now playing against a historical background, so the transition to the historical film is fluid. Films such as Der Bockerer , Löwengrube , Herbstmilch , Rama dama or Hölleisengretl focus on life during the time of National Socialism and the occupation . The films Andreas Hofer - The freedom of the eagle and mountain blood deal with the Tyrolean uprising . Other films, such as Räuber Kneißl , Jennerwein or Margarete Steiff , take up historical personalities, but try to be realistic without kitsch. Schwabenkinder , Schlafes Bruder or Das sinstere Tal deal with the fate of people who are faced with a harsh and violent environment. In his monumental life's work, the Heimat film series, Edgar Reitz traces the life of a simple family from the Hunsrück over a period of around 160 years. As a lifelike, unadulterated chronicle with finely drawn characters, it received a lot of critical praise.

Important directors who shaped this “new Heimatfilm” against a historical background are Dieter Berner , Jo Baier , Edgar Reitz , Joseph Vilsmaier , Urs Odermatt , Stefan Ruzowitzky and Xaver Schwarzenberger .

Contemporary Heimatfilms like Hierankl or Baching place the protagonists in a field of tension between home and distance, between the desire for freedom and the longing for stability and roots. Such films fluctuate between declarations of war and declarations of love for their homeland. Director Matthias Kiefersauer describes his image of home as follows: “It can be like a spider's web in which you can get totally entangled and cannot get out. On the other hand, it can also be a network that catches you when you are going through crises. ”The Best Time trilogy by Marcus H. Rosenmüller can also be seen in this sense .

In some cases, TV series such as The Millionaire Farmer or Der Bulle von Tölz , but also sections of the series Four Women and a Death, are influenced by the new Heimatfilm. In some cases, parodic elements are also used. Elements can also be found in the series Meister Eder und seine Pumuckl , Irgendwie und Sowieso with Ottfried Fischer and Elmar Wepper , Peter and Paul with Hans Clarin and Helmut Fischer , Monaco Franze - The Eternal Stenz , Munich Stories , the works of Gerhard Polt and the White and blue stories with Gustl Bayrhammer .

Screenwriter Karin Michalke, who is responsible for several screenplays for Markus H. Rosenmüller, rejects the term “Heimatfilm” because she primarily associates it with the works of the 1950s and 1960s. In a radio feature for Bayern 2, the cultural critics Markus Metz and Georg Seeßlen also raised the question of what distinguishes a Heimatfilm today, since the genre is very diverse: “Heimatfilms are those that focus on a specific region in their stories , their landscape and their history, their people and their languages? Or are these films that deal with a feeling, a longing, a problem, maybe even a pain? Films that are about staying or leaving, coming back and rediscovering? Are Heimatfilms those that construct an identity based on history, landscape and language? "

The homeland genre in other cultural areas

The American homeland film is the western , but it shows a wider range. With the film Heartwood (1998), also known as Der Baumflüsterer , one came amazingly close to the West German direction of the 1950s: a rural love story, embedded in an ecologically colored economic conflict between a big city bank and a village sawmill.

Overall, there are many parallels in the development of German-language homeland films and American westerns. Early westerns also showed an idealized world, full of clichés, woodcut characters, and simple schemes. Initiated by the spaghetti westerns in the 1960s, a development began here that led to late wests and anti-westerns , which, like modern homeland films, paint an unadorned, sometimes pessimistic picture. Like these, modern westerns are also to be viewed as period films .


  • Jürgen Heizmann: "Pictures and stories from the provinces. The Heimatfilm." In: Politics and Culture No. 3/2019, p. 19.
  • Jürgen Heizmann: "The Heimatfilm. Topics, social concerns, cinematic forms." In: INDES. Journal for Politics and Society . Issue 4/2018. ISSN 2191-995X, pp. 66 - 75.
  • Jürgen Heizmann (ed.): Heimatfilm international . Stuttgart 2016, ISBN 978-3-15-019396-9 .
  • Claudia Beindorf: Terror of the Idyll. The cultural construction of communities in German Heimatfilm and in Swedish Landsbygdsfilm 1930–1960 (= The cultural construction of communities in the modernization process. Vol. 5). Nomos-Verlags-Gesellschaft, Baden-Baden, 2001, ISBN 3-7890-7501-9 (also: Berlin, Humboldt University, dissertation, 1999).
  • Gerhard Bliersbach: The heather was so green. The German post-war film in a new perspective. Beltz, Weinheim u. a. 1985, ISBN 3-407-85055-7 .
  • Willy Höfig: The German Heimatfilm. 1947-1960. Enke, Stuttgart 1973, ISBN 3-432-01805-3 .
  • Friedrich Koch : About the Heideschulmeister Uwe Karsten and his ideal world (Heideschulmeister Uwe Karsten, 1954, by Hans Deppe based on the novel by Felicitas Rose). In: Friedrich Koch: School in the cinema. Authority and education - from the "Blue Angel" to the "Feuerzangenbowle". Beltz, Weinheim u. a. 1987, ISBN 3-407-34009-5 , pp. 165 ff.

Web links

Wiktionary: Heimatfilm  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Heimatfilm. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  2. MUH - Bavarian Aspects, Issue 13, 2014, Heimat & Film - The Heimatfilm between old clichés and new realities, page 18
  3. The film is based on Ludwig Ganghofer's play Der Geigenmacher von Mittenwald .
  4. The information in this section is based on Willi Höfig: Der deutsche Heimatfilm 1947–1960 . Stuttgart 1973. p. 143
  5. MUH - Bavarian Aspects, Issue 13, 2014, Heimat & Film - The Heimatfilm between old clichés and new realities, page 19
  6. a b c MUH - Bavarian Aspects, Edition 13, 2014, Heimat & Film - The Heimatfilm between old clichés and new realities, page 20
  7. MUH - Bavarian Aspects, Issue 13, 2014, Heimat & Film - The Heimatfilm between old clichés and new realities, page 21
  8. Willy Höfig: The German Heimatfilm. 1947-1960. 1973, p. 392 ff.
  9. ZDF / Arte documentation Heimat, süße Heimat - A German Genre (2007)
  10. a b c MUH - Bavarian Aspects, Issue 13, 2014, Heimat & Film - The Heimatfilm between old clichés and new realities, page 23