Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet


Best films:
  1. History Lessons (1972)
  2. From the Cloud to the Resistance (1979)
  3. Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach (1968)
  4. Class Relations (1984)
  5. Eyes Do Not Want to Close at All Times (1970)
  6. Every Revolution Is a Throw of the Dice (1977)
Links:

If English is your first language and you could translate my old Italian text, please contact me. Costretto a chiedere asilo in Germania per aver rifiutato di prestare il servizio militare in Algeria, il francese Jean Marie Straub (con l'aiuto della moglie Danielle Huillet) si è inserito negli anni Sessanta nella corrente del nuovo cinema tedesco. I suoi primi film nascono da pretesti letterari (un romanzo di Böll, un dramma di Bruckner e una tragedia di Corneille) e hanno in comune un rigore maniacale del montaggio e della recitazione, un approccio narrativo di stampo brechtiano, un lavoro filologico sul testo, una trascrizione cinematografica delle forme musicali dodecafoniche barocche.

Attraverso altre sconvolgenti riletture di classici, ma questa volta moderni come Schönberg, Brecht, Fortini, Pavese, Straub ha condotto un dibattito anche intellettuale sulla lotta di classe, l'imperialismo, i mass media. L'apice formale raggiunto da Straub nel suo procedimento di lettura di un testo è Toute revolutiòn est un coup de des (1977), sul poema di Mallarmé; come sempre meditazione storica, riflessione esistenziale e afflato ideologico.

Gli scandali generati dalle sue prime trasposizioni di Böll nel 1964-65, in cui il senso della matrice originale viene violentemente deflagrato mescolando presente e passato; dopo un film su Bach, con pretesti sociopolitici e intervalli documentari sugli attori e sui musicisti del film e dove la colonna sonora guida il dramma, The bridegroom, the comedienne and the pimp condensa in 23 minuti un dramma di Bruckner, un documentario sulla prostituzione e un melodramma amoroso fra un'attricetta e un soldato americano di colore.

Un Othan che viviseziona la decadenza dell'antica Roma coi rumori della Roma moderna in sottofondo (il film è girato all'aria aperta); History lessons, demistificazione della storia romana attraverso la lettura di un testo di Brecht eseguita da personaggi in toga contrappuntata da scene da scene di traffico romano.

Jean-Marie Straub (France, 1933) and Daniele Huillet (France, 1936) were among the most radical filmmakers of their time, both in terms of the unconventional format of their films and in terms of their political (communist) ideology. All of the their films are based on literary works: novels (Marguerite Duras, Franz Kafka, Elio Vittorini), plays (Bertolt Brecht), letters (Friedrich Engels, Wassily Kandinsky, Bach), and operas (Arnold Schoenberg).

Their collaboration began with Machorka-Muff (1963), an 18-minute short film based on a Heinrich Boell short story. This was followed by Nicht versoehnt oder Es hilft nur Gewalt wo Gewalt herrscht/ Not Reconciled (1965), a 52-minute film derived from another Boell novel, Der Braeutigam, die Komoediantin und der Zuhalter/ The Bridegroom, the Comedienne and the Pimp (1968), a short film starring German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder and his theatre troupe, Chronik der Anna Magdalena Bach/ Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach (1968), which is one of their best, and Les Yeux ne Veulent pas en Tout Temps se Fermer, ou Peut-etre qu'un jour Rome se Permettra de Choisir a son Tour/ Eyes Do Not Want to Close at All Times (1969), an adaptation of Pierre Corneille's play Othon (1664).

Geschichtsunterricht/ History Lessons (1972) was an adaptation of Bertold Brecht's play "The Business Affairs of Mr Julius Caesar", Moses and Aaron (1975) was an adaptation of Schoenberg's opera, Fortini/Cani (1976) was based on the Italian poet Franco Fortini's essay "I Cani del Sinai", Toute Revolution est un Coup de Des/ Every Revolution Is a Throw of the Dice (1977) was based on the French poet Stephane Mallarme's poem "Un Coup de des Jamais n'Abolira le Hasard" (1897) on its 80th anniversary (recited by nine different people), and Dalla Nube alla Resistenza/ From the Cloud to the Resistance (1979) was based on stories by Italian novelist Cesare Pavese. In between there was Einleitung zu Arnold Schoenbergs Begleitmusik zu einer Lichtspielscene/ Introduction to Arnold Schoenberg's Accompaniment to a Cinematic Scene (1973).

Too Early Too Late (1982) was based on an essay by communist pioneer Friedrich Engels and an essay by Mahmoud Hussein about the failed Egyptian revolution of 1952. After the 7-minute short En Rachachant (1982), Der Tod des Empedokles/ The Death of Empedocles (1987) was an adaptation of Friedrich Hoelderlin's play (1798), Klassenverhaeltnisse/ Class Relations (1984) was based on Kafka's novel "Amerika", the short Black Sin (1989) was also based on Hoelderlin's play although on a different version, and Paul Cezanne im Gespraech mit Joachim Gasquet/ Cezanne (1989) was their tribute to the French painter.

Then came Die Antigone des Sophokles nach der Hoelderlinschen Uebertragung fuer die Buehne Bearbeitet von Brecht 1948/ Antigone (1992), an adaptation of Brecht's "Antigone", Lothringen/ Lorraine (1994), a 20-minute tribute to Straub's homeland, Von Heute auf Morgen/ From Today Until Tomorrow (1997), based on Arnold Schoenberg's opera, Sicilia (1999), an adaptation of Elio Vittorini's novel "Conversations in Sicily" (1939), Operai Contadini/ Workers Peasants (2001), an adaptation of Vittorini's "Women of Messina" (1950), Quei loro Incontri/ Those Encounters of Theirs (2006), also based on Pavese, Une Visite au Louvre/ A Visit to the Louvre (2004), Il Ritorno del Figlio Prodigo - Umiliati/ The Return of the Prodigal Son - Humiliated (2003), another work inspired by Vittorini's "Women of Messina" (1950), and finally Dialogue d'Ombres/ Dialogue of Shadows (2013), based on a short story by Georges Bernanos.

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