After fifteen years in the north of Italy, a Sicilian returns to his homeland. He goes back to where his mother still lives. –Cannes Film Festival
Danièle Huillet was born on May 1, 1936 in France. After she had just finished high school in the 1950s, she met Jean-Marie Straube and both their professional and private lives have been closely intertwined ever since.
In 1958 they moved to Germany, and their 1965 production Not Reconciled (Nicht versöhnt, based on a novel by Heinrich Böll) caused a scandal at the Berlinale. This film was followed by adaptations of works by Corneille (Othon, 1969) and Bertolt Brecht (History Lessons or Geschichtsunterricht, 1972) and Arnold Schönberg’s opera Moses und Aron (1974/5), each in the somewhat unpopular manner of austere exercises. A great deal of attention was aroused by the Kafka adaptation Class Relations (Klassenverhältnisse, 1983, based on the unfinished Amerika/Der Verschollene). These films were followed by others dealing with literary greats such as Hölderlin and Sophocles. Since the 1970s Danièle Huillet and Jean… read more
Filmmaker Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet, his wife and co-director, have become leading figures in New German cinema. Their films are not for passive viewers seeking light entertainment; films such as Not Reconciled or Only Violence Helps Where Violence Rules (1965) are intellectually demanding, and yet are among the most haunting films of German cinema. Prior to teaming up with Huillet, the French born Straub worked as an assistant to French directors such as Abel Gance, Jean Renoir, and Robert Bresson. He met and teamed up with Huillet in 1954. To avoid the draft, he fled to Munich, Germany in 1958 where they got involved with radical theater groups. By the early sixties he and his wife had become a prominent directors. They made their debut with the short Machorka-Muff in 1963. In 1968, their long-time friend Fassbinder appeared in The Bridegroom, the Comedienne and the Pimp. Straub and Huillet’s most famous film is Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach (1968). By the late ’60s… read more
The final sequence was sublime. As the actors recite the text they remain absolutely still, maintaining sculpture-like poses (although the muscles in their neck and face tense up and release according to the rhythms and inflections conjured up by the text); so when they move - usually into another carefully considered yet naturalistic pose - it evinces an event-like quality.
It's a dialogue movie, wherein the subject matter is situated within the dialogue between two character. But what is unusual about this movie is that, the camera lays flat on one angle at one level, recording only one speaker. And for a couple of minutes, the conversation goes on with the other speaker off-cam redefining a conversation movie where shot-reverse shot technique pretty does that trick.
A winter melon, from Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet's Sicilia! (1999); cinematography by William Lubtchansky, one of the great artists
When considering the paucity of works by the filmmaking team of Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub available in the DVD format, it behooves