As I started to shoot HEIMAT at the end of the Seventies, I had to make a weighty decision: The people who lived in our "film town" Schabbach were plagued by a yearning for faraway places, and some of them left their town and never came back again during their lifetimes. As the storyteller, I had to decide at that time whether I should accompagny those who had left, or wether I should, shall we say, stay in town, and continue to tell the story of those who had stayed there. I chose the second version. And so the image came about of a community in a small town, of a family bond, of a world which can only still function in childhood. Home is always something "lost", a longing which never allows itself to be satisfied. You are dissappointed when you want to return to it.
During the years of the HEIMAT production, however, I often thought about the other version: a story which accompanies one of those who goes away, away from the town, from the landscape, the family, the world of childhood. Many of us have also gone through this experience, and it left as much of an impression on us as our home where we grew up did.
I needed over seven years of production before I could present this second film. "DIE ZWEITE HEIMAT". The title is not meant to indicate a continuation of HEIMAT, but rather it refers to that place which we, as adults, find: the place we choose of free will and which we call our second home. Profession, friendships and the family we ourselves establish comprise this home we choose. It is based on decisions we ourselves make. But love, friendship and the profession are values which decay very easily. In our second home, we live on very unsure ground. We don't want to give up our demand to be free, which is also dangerous to all of our commitments. The second home is always a temporary one.
As the main character I chose Hermann, the young man who leaves Schabbach after his family has destroyed his first love. As mentioned in HEIMAT, he goes to a big city to study music. At this side, we enter the decade which he needs in order to become an adult: the Sixties. Along with Hermann, we meet the other characters who are trying to realize their dreams in the city: young musicians, filmmakers, actors, writers - young artists, who, as in the past, have allways felt drawn to a city like Munich. This little group used to be called Bohemians.
Whereas HEIMAT described childhood, the small town and family life, we will now tell the story of growing up, of life in the big city, of friendship and love. Love is one of the main themes, because young artists cultivate love, are in love with love and devote their works to it: their songs, poems, paintings and films.
Our location is Munich. It is the city where I have lived and worked since the Fifties. In our film Munich is, to a certain degree, an imaginary city; its image has its source more in the emotions and desires of our film characters than in historical facts. Schabbach was a town which we invented. As a storyteller, you cannot invent a big city without banishing the story completely from the realm of reality. Big cities, however, are so intricate and are comprised of inner worlds, concealed from the individual person, that I thought it valid to handle a big city like I handled Schabbach: I placed the invented characters in real times and invented events which take place at real locations. But really, what image of Munich would not be fictional?
As with HEIMAT, we once again used classical black and white film technology, mixed with the latest colour film technology. Let it be said for purposes of orientation that after Hermann arrives in Munich, the world is separated into stories which take place during the day and stories which take place during the night. What takes place after sunset is shot in colour. This concept is only rarely broken.
Our film is almost 26 hours in length. In 26 hours you can read a large novell or take a small trip. Our film belongs to another category other than that of a feature film. It is of course done with actors and portrays persons, but it doesn't do this with the aim of developing a plot with a certain dramatic ending. We gave the film the subtitle "Chronicle of a Young Life" in order to point to a certain form of narration, which is like life itself: the future is always uncertain, and tension is created by the question of death. As everyone knows, more often than not things come about in life differently than we think they should. And don't think that you know how long 26 hours are!
We want to lead our audience on a trip through the lifetime of the film characters. When you study the course of a life, you can always discover the law of expansion, which is characteristic of every phase of growth. The experience of the ever-widening horizon is especially fascinating in childhood. The persons in our story are also filled with the need to grow. As the storyteller, I tried to make allowance for this. I was surprised to see that 26 hours of film were almost not enough.