Landscapes: the Journal of the International Centre for Landscape and Language


Since the fall of the Wall, unification and the subsequent re-invention of the nation, filmmakers have revisited the German Heimat film / homeland film cinematic tradition with a view to placing themselves creatively in the context of its intellectual and artistic heritage. However, German directors like Ute Badura, Wolfgang Koepp, Andreas Dresen, Peter Welz and Andreas Kleinert, who, in their work and autobiographies, bring East and West together, choose an Eastern setting for their films – rather than alpine or heath-landscapes – as they ascribe symbolic value to the Baltic Region and former German territories in the East. In many instances their films culminate at the sea which stands for the rough elements of nature as experienced in numerous maritime disasters in the untamed tidal waters of Germany’s limited coastline. The ocean drives home the message that the only certainty in life is change. But why did they choose the contested Eastern German territories and the Baltic Sea? Is this re-orientation and paradigm shift in the Heimat genre from the west to the east a rapprochement or, rather, a territorial claim? Are the shores of the Baltic Sea perhaps expressing a yearning for former German territories further east that were lost after 1945? This article will probe several interpretations of the Baltic shore as a cinematic motif.


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