‘A young man meets a banker, a peasant, a lawyer, and a writer who lived through Julius Caesar's rise to power — and a city that has survived it... The film tells the original relations between commerce, democracy, capitalism and imperialism’ (Straub).
The film adapts a small section of Brecht’s unfinished Roman novel and is constructed in two movements: in the first part, long takes of contemporary Rome shot from a moving car offer a reflection on the city and its historical and social development (‘To understand the street, you must see the street!’, said Straub). In the second part, a young German researcher engages in a series of dialogues on the economic affairs of Ancient Rome and the political opportunism that brought Julius Caesar to power. History Lessons
is a sharp criticism of greed and capitalism and a film that speaks directly to our present time.
, History Lessons, Dirs: Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, Italy/West Germany, 1972, 16mm/DCP, colour, 85 min., in German with English subtitles.
Presented as part of The Films of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet