Jean-Marie Straub & Daniele Huillet: Selected Works
Too Early/Too Late
dir. Jean-Marie Straub & Daniele Huillet, France/Egypt, 1981, DCP, 100 min.
Inspired by a letter by Friedrich Engels and Class Conflict in Egypt: 1945-1970 account of two militant Marxist writers who had been imprisoned by the Nasser regime, Straub and Huillet filmed Too Early / Too Late in France and Egypt during the anxious months of 1980 that followed the Camp David Accords and culminated in Anwar Sadat’s assassination the following year. They reflect on Egypt’s history of peasant struggle and liberation from Western colonization, and link it to class tensions in France shortly before the Revolution of 1789, quoting texts by Friedrich Engels as well as the pioneering nonfiction film Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory (1895). The film was a major influence on contemporary filmmakers like Harun Farocki, Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucci, and John Gianvito.
Every Revolution Is a Throw of the Dice
dir. Jean- Marie Straub & Daniele Huillet, France, 1977, DCP, 10 min., French w/ English subtitles
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.
- by Joshua Siegel, Museum of Modern Art