Jean-Marie Straub’s first film after the death of Danièlle Huillet is a love poem to her. Le Genou d’Artémide is based on Cesare Pavese’s “Dialogues of Leuco”, which had already been adapted by Straub et Huillet as Ces Rencontres Avec Eux (2006).
It is easy to forget that the cinema is but light and shadow, and for such a simple admission, it takes someone like Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet to remind us of this vital fact.
Le Genou d’Artemide, to my knowledge Straub’s first film directed by himself after Huillet passed away, is really nothing but the sound of wind in the air, and the look of moving light through trees. There is a dialog too, of course, again adapted from Cesare Pavese like many of Straub/Huillet’s previous films, and fittingly it is about the vast distance between a mortal and the woman he loves, a goddess of dreams who encompasses all that is wild and wonderful, beastly and beautiful in the world. After the dialog, a series of wide-angle pans treat us to a near panoptic, resplendent vision of humanless forests, ending cryptically on what seems a grave or monument amongst the tree.
Like much of the Straub I have seen, the rich context and background, not only of the source text so beautifully embodied in voice and posture of the actors, but the locations themselves are something I am woefully ignorant of. But no previous knowledge is required to understand the tenor and wisdom, the passion of this handful of simple, but undeniably magnificent visions of light and sound. When Straub holds the last shot of a man in the film, the dialog complete, and the sun passes and moves the grove into shadow, it is evident that in the end light and shadow reign over the most beautiful of cinema, and can say things about loved ones, life, and death that words can never reach.
412MB | 24m 33s | 762×572 | mkv