Jean-Marie Straub & Daniele Huillet: Selected Works
Itinerary of Jean Bricard / Corneille-Brecht
Itinerary of Jean Bricard
Dir. Jean-Marie Straub & Daniele Huillet, France, 2008, 35mm, 40 min., French w/ English subtitles
Scarred by wartime occupation and postwar pollution, Coton Island is a palimpsest of history brought vividly to life in Jean Bricard’s childhood memories. The island, strategically located on the Loire, was once a lively port town with ash trees, vineyards, and tributaries alive with salmon and shad. But in 1944 Coton Island was occupied by the Germans and became the setting for brutal roundups and executions (including that of Bricard’s uncle) and for small acts of heroic resistance. After collaborating with Huillet on the script, Straub completed Itinerary after her death in 2006. He filmed Coton Island against a stark and leaden winter light; he used deliberatively long tracking shots and nearly still compositions to evoke a kind of enduring resilience.
Dir. Jean-Marie Straub, France, 2009, video, 27 min., French w/ English subtitles
In various guises and in melodic fashion, Cornelia Geiser recites verses from Pierre Corneille’s Horace (1640) and Othon (1664), and extended excerpts from Bertolt Brecht’s radio play The Trial of Lucullus (1939) in which the Roman General is summoned to the underworld to stand trial for the sufferings he inflicted on commoners and slaves. Across centuries of Western civilization, Straub draws echoes between the “monstrous” rulers of ancient Rome, the kings of 17th-century France, the fascists of Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, and, by implication, those in power today who continue to inflict suffering on those without power.
- by Joshua Siegel, Museum of Modern Art