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Not Reconciled, Or Only Violence Helps Where Violence Rules
Jean-Marie Straub Jerman Barat, 1965
Straub provides no visual or aural clues to the change in epoch, leaving the viewer to scour the frames for clues. It is a disorienting tactic, but one that emphatically places the past inside of the present. . . . Even getting these bare character facts is difficult in a film so immune to exposition – it is a work of irresolution. Straub described it as a “lacunary” film, or one filled with gaps.
June 17, 2018
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In contrast to the long, austere takes in Chantal Akerman’s early work, its editing is relatively rapid; the first post-credits shot of the film lasts no more than three seconds. Thus, Not Reconciled feels like a film that is simultaneously fast and slow, and – particularly given its heavy use of dialogue and voiceover drawn from Böll’s text – one that will likely be a challenge for viewers to keep up with on first viewing both in terms of narrative and characters.
September 20, 2017
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The special achievement of Not Reconciled is its capricious jamming together of three periods of German history. What in any other film might serve to clarify the action—descriptive titles, observable changes in costume and decor, expository voice-over narration—is here almost totally upended. Information comes without the customary gadgetry of narrative filmmaking; the attitude toward time is (always) wonderfully, strangely agnostic.
May 27, 2016
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Only the subtlest of indicators alert viewers to the story’s complex flashbacks… Straub and Huillet bring the layers of history to life in the present tense, which they judge severely. The tamped-down acting and the spare, tense visual rhetoric evoke a moral crisis as well as the response—as much in style as in substance—that it demands.
July 17, 2015
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It not only radically condensed the original novel by squeezing 300 pages into a 50-minute film, but in doing so created a plot of remarkable density and structure.
September 01, 2009
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An early episode of a sacramental canticle recited by a monotonic, impassive chorus (in an oddly surreal scene that fuses home economics and religion) provides an integrally illuminating puzzle piece to Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet’s maddeningly opaque and fragmented, yet abstractly intriguing and curiously resonant film, Not Reconciled.
January 01, 2005
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For all its difficulty and complexity as an integral narrative, Not Reconciled registers more simply and conventionally than Straub’s other works within its individual sequences, and is perhaps his only film to which the usual concept of mise en scène can comfortably be applied.
March 01, 1976
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