Not Reconciled (1964, 55 min)
Every Revolution is a Throw of Dice (1977, 10 min)
The Witches, Women Among Themselves (2008, 21 min)
(Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, 1964, 55 min, West Germany, Digital)
“Long live dynamite!” In Not Reconciled, Straub-Huillet attempt to unmoor their audience by denying them the soothing reassurances of conventional storytelling, spatial continuity, or psychological explanation as they hopscotch across the chronologies of Heinrich Böll’s novel, moving freely between the Kaiser autocracy of the 1910s and the Adenauer economic miracle of the 1950s. In doing so, they chart the origins and legacy of Nazism, and the moral demands of obedience and sacrifice within the German bourgeois family.
“For all its difficulty and complexity as an integral narrative, Not Reconciled registers more simply and conventionally than Straub’s other works within its individual sequences, and is perhaps his only film to which the usual concept of mise en scène can comfortably be applied.” – Jonathan Rosenbaum
“Straub and Huillet bring the layers of history to life in the present tense, which they judge severely. The tamped-down acting and the spare, tense visual rhetoric evoke a moral crisis as well as the response — as much in style as in substance — that it demands.” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker
Every Revolution is a Throw of Dice
(Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, 1977, 10 min, France, Digital)
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.
The Witches, Women Among Themselves
(Jean-Marie Straub, 2008, 21 min, France/Italy, DCP)
The enchantress Circe recounts to Leucò her attempts to bewitch and bed Odysseus. She talks about men and women, the human and the divine, and the brave hero who chooses to become neither a pig nor a God.
In her adamantine repose, Circe also hints at the monotony of her own immortal fate, and contrasts it with the vibrating currents of life she so dearly craves and envies in Odysseus, with his longing for home, childhood, and love.