Brecht built a certain framework for alienating the spectator from whatever is going on in the mise-en-scène. This is supposed to explain away the difficulties you are experiencing in digesting what S&H put on your plate. Namely, the car ride through Rome of the 70's (which is more engaging than google street view because of its historical aspect), awful delivery of a brilliant text, awkward angles, black periods etc
Como su mismo título lo manifiesta, un filme que despliega un catálogo histórico sobre las dinámicas políticas durante la Imperio Romano, sobre cómo el sistema económico y bélico estaba en función a los intereses de estado. Huillet y Straub para esto componen desde una mirada bretchiana, el espectador forma parte de lo representado no exigiendo su carácter ficcional.
What I got from H/S’s film is that human history inextricably joins act and hermeneutics. In the historical becoming things don’t happen without an articulation, a necessary ‘prise de conscience’. We do, we interpret, we ’read’ and weigh a gesture, then do again. If Caesar is an economic villain or a virtue paragon – both stances will engender attitudes and directions. Leaps and changes, however new, are breakdowns,
Arid and ugly, incessant dry monologues delivered by the half-asleep, intentionally as dull as could be ("Brechtian distancing," see?), made by people bereft of heart or soul or anything to communicate, save a schoolmarm's simplistic "history repeats itself, kids." Except for movies about Batmen or those starring Adam Sandler, I've never seen anything so worthless.
The end of history. Analog and digital recordings have forced history to produce its own history, thus turn it into a very mortal thing: like a person who lives and passes. There’s no longer a writer and myth in between. History Lessons shows this loss and conflict ruthlessly.