Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub

Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub – Operai, contadini AKA Workers, Peasants (2001)

Quote:
A peasant tradition of making homemade ricotta cheese on a wood-burning fire becomes an act of resistance in this unforgettable film. Amateur actors from the regional Buti theater, many of them ordinary laborers and farmers, recite or read passages from Elio Vittorini’s Marxist novella Women of Messina, their singularly musical voices ringing out as one in the verdant forest. The story, which Italo Calvino called a “choral narrative,” centers on a group of workers and peasants who rebuild their lives in the aftermath of the Second World War by rebuilding a destroyed village and forming a utopian community. Read More »

Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub – Toute révolution est un coup de dés AKA Every Revolution Is a Throw of the Dice (1977)

Quote:
Straub and Huillet invited friends to recite Stéphane Mallarmé’s 1897 poem “A Throw of the Dice Will Never Abolish Chance,” with its radically modern use of free verse, in a park alongside the wall in Père Lachaise cemetery where the last 147 men and women of the Paris Commune were lined up and shot dead in 1871.

It is not hard to understand why these ambitious filmmakers were drawn to Mallarme’s late-19th-century poem, which casts readers adrift in a sea of elusive meanings, a playfully and hermetically cubist constellation of words that can assume myriad visual, aural, and symbolic forms. Read More »

Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub – Klassenverhältnisse AKA Class Relations [+Extra] (1984)

The Lincoln Center wrote:
Straub and Huillet were frequently drawn to unfinished texts—Hölderlin’s The Death of Empedocles, Schoenberg’s Moses and Aaron—and for Class Relations, one of their supreme accomplishments, they turned to Kafka’s never-completed Amerika. “Kafka, for us,” Straub declared, “is the only major poet of industrial civilization, I mean, a civilization where people depend on their work to survive.” Kafka never did visit the America of his novel, so perhaps it’s fitting that the saga of Karl Rossmann, a teenage immigrant from Europe who arrives to a strange new land rife with swindlers and hypocrites, was largely shot in Hamburg. The style of Straub-Huillet, with their Brechtian performances, long takes, and static framing, is often characterized as “austere,” yet such a description belies the extraordinary richness of their images, the palpable weight of their direct-sound, and the invigorating clarity of their political commitment. Read More »

Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub – Dalla nube alla resistenza, aka: From the Cloud to the Resistance (1979)


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Straub/Huillet’s From the Cloud to the Resistance (1978) has been summarized by Straub as follows: ‘From the cloud, that is from the invention of the gods by man, to the resistance of the latter against the former as much as to the resistance against Fascism.

‘Dalla nube alla resistenza (From the Cloud to the Resistance ) (1978), based on two works by Cesare Pavese, falls into the category of History Lessons and Too Early, Too Late as well. It, too, has two parts—a twentieth-century text and a text regarding the myths of antiquity, each set in the appropriate landscape. Pavese’s The Moon and the Bonfires looks back on the violent deaths of Italian anti-Fascist resistance fighters; Dialogues with Leucò is a series of dialogues between heroes and gods, connecting myth and history and returning to an ambiguous stage in the creation of distinctions, such as that between animal and human, which are fundamental to grammar and language itself. Such a juxtaposition of political engagement with profoundly contemplative issues such as myth, nature, and meaning points to the characters of Empedocles and Antigone in the Hölderlin films.’

(Library Synopsis): Six dialogues between figures from Greek antiquity, taken from Cesare Pavese’s ‘Dialoghi con Leucò’, are followed by an episode set in modern times, taken from the same author’s novel ‘La Luna e i falò’. Read More »

Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub – Lothringen! (1994)

Quote:
In this 20-minute film, Jean Marie-Straub, who was born in Metz, Lorraine, unfolds the changing history of his homeland, a country torn by different wars and states. Victories are defeats and vice versa, and the land is saturated with iron, coal and blood. “Lothringen!” (“Lorraine”) is Straub’s personal account of “How Green was my Valley”, a lesson in topographical land survey and history. Read More »

Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub – Umiliati (2003)

In Italy, immediately subsequent to the war, a group of people who lost all they possessed during the conflict, settle in a village in ruins. They intend to restore the city from the rubble and re-start life, in imitation of the women of Messina who rebuilt their city, destroyed as it was by an earthquake. Oscillating between respect and suspicion, co-existence between group members is tense. Things become complicated when an envoy from the government arrives to say that nothing there belongs to them. The film is a free adaptation of fragments of the novella ‘The Women of Messina’, by Sicilian writer Elio Vittorini. Read More »

Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub – Geschichtsunterricht aka History Lessons (1972)

Quote:
Based on an unfinished novel by Brecht, the 1973 feature History Lessons takes on a loose journalistic form, as a young man drives through contemporary Italy to interview an ancient Roman banker on his views of Caesars reign. The discourse turns on the interpenetrations of politics, trade, and war, and the films relentlessly demanding pace marks its makers ambitions to wedge open a space beyond capitalist production, from which some new critique might emerge. Read More »