Tag Archives: Danièle Huillet

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

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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 – Les yeux ne veulent pas en tout temps se fermer, ou Peut-être qu’un jour Rome se permettra de choisir à son tour AKA Eyes Do Not Want to Close at All Times or Perhaps One Day Rome Will Permit Herself to Choose in Her Turn AKA Othon (1970)

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Straub-Huillet’s first color film, Othon (Les yeux ne veulent pas en tout temps se fermer, ou Peut-être qu’un jour Rome se permettra de choisir à son tour) adapts a lesser-known Corneille tragedy from 1664, which in turn was based on an episode of imperial court intrigue chronicled in Tacitus’s Histories. The costuming is classical, and the toga-clad, nonprofessional cast performs the drama’s original French text amid the ruins of Rome’s Palatine Hill while the noise of contemporary urban life hums in the background. Their lines are executed with a terrific flatness and frequently through heavy accents; the language in Othon becomes not merely an expression but a thing itself, an element whose plainness here alerts us to qualities of the work that might otherwise be subordinated. “If at every moment one can keep one’s eyes and ears open to all of this,” Straub wrote, “it’s possible to even find the film thrilling and note that everything here is information—even the purely sensual reality of the space which the actors leave empty at the end of each act. Read More »

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

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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 »

Manfred Blank – Wie will ich lustig lachen: Danièle Huillet und Jean-Marie Straub und ihr Film Klassenverhältnisse AKA How Merrily I Shall Laugh: Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub on Their Film Class Relations (1984)

Filmmaker Manfred Blank (director of the excellent Pharos of Chaos) interviews Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub at some length about their then-current production, Klassenverhältnisse (Class Relations), in which he, himself, performed as an actor. Read More »

Harun Farocki – Jean-Marie Straub und Daniéle Huillet bei der Arbeit an einem Film nach Franz Kafkas Romanfragment Amerika AKA Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet at Work on a Film Based on Franz Kafka’s Amerika (1983)

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Harun Farocki films Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet at work during the shooting of Klassenverhältnisse (Class Relations), a film based on Kafka’s unfinished novel, Amerika, in which Farocki himself plays the character, Delamarche. The film is both a tribute to the work of the two filmmakers, who define themselves as “artisans” in reaction against the film industry, and as he says, a self-portrait: at work, directed by the couple, he endlessly repeats his gestures and lines, like a worker up to the point of exhaustion. 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 »