• film

Jean-Marie Straub & Daniele Huillet: Selected Works

Not Reconciled... / The Bridegroom...

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Not Reconciled, or Only Violence Helps Where Violence Rules

dir. Jean-Marie Straub & Daniele Huillet, West Germany, 1965, 35mm, 55 min., German w/ English subtitles

Straub and 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.

Followed by:

The Bridegroom, the Actress, and the Pimp

Dir. Jean-Marie Straub & Daniele Huillet, West Germany, 1968, 35 mm, 23 min., German w/ English subtitles

Love is a tawdry transaction, and a coercive weapon of the ruling class, in this exhilarating, controversial product of the Munich Action-Theater, an immediate forerunner to Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Anti-Theater productions of the late 1960s. Invoking the writings of Chairman Mao and the events of Paris 1968, Straub and Huillet cast Irm Hermann, Hanna Schygulla, and Peer Raben (who would soon become regulars of the Fassbinder acting ensemble) along with Fassbinder himself in this radical condensation of Ferdinand Bruckner’s 1926 play, a single 11-minute shot that is subsumed within an intricately structured, 12-shot constellation of other quotations, including poetry by Saint John of the Cross and musical passages from Bach’s Ascension Oratorio.

The first of the three sequences constituting the film is a long tracking shot from a car showing prostitutes plying their trade on the night-time streets of Germany; the second is the staged Bruckner play, cut down to 10 minutes by Straub and photographed in a single take; the final sequence covers the marriage of James and Lilith, and Lilith’s subsequent execution of her pimp, played by Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

- by Joshua Siegel, Museum of Modern Art