In 1929 Schoenberg wrote the music for an imaginary film, subtitling the composition with the words ‘threatening danger, fear, catastrophe’. Straub and Huillet use this as a starting point for Einleitung zu Arnold Schoenbergs…, (Introduction to Arnold Schoenberg’s …
), their Marxist and anti-imperialist essay about the ‘intolerable present’, as critic Serge Daney has put it. Archival footage of the war and bombings in Vietnam, images of the dead of the Paris Commune and other documents are combined and edited together with a reading of two historical texts. One is a letter written in 1923 by Schoenberg to Wassily Kandinsky about the painter’s complicity with the anti-Semitic policies of the German government; the second is an extract from Bertolt Brecht’s speech to the International Congress in Defence of Culture in 1935, condemning anti-Semitism and denouncing the inextricable link between fascism and the barbarism of capitalism.
Huillet and Straub’s first feature, Nicht Versöhnt… (Not Reconciled…)
, based on the novel Billiards at Half Past Nine
(1959) by Heinrich Böll chronicles three generations of a bourgeois German family of architects from the 1910s through the Nazi era to the economic ‘miracle’ of postwar Germany. The filmmakers treat Böll’s narrative as a document, stripping it of any anecdotal or psychological elements. They accumulate evidence and achieve historical concreteness in order to reveal the continuity of the violence of the past in the present and to provide a cinematographic, moral and political reflection on the last fifty years of German life.’
Nicht versöhnt oder Es hilft nur Gewalt, wo Gewalt herrscht
, Not Reconciled or Only Violence Helps Where Violence Rule
s, West Germany, Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, 1965, 35mm on DCP, b&w, 52 min. w/ English subtitles.
Einleitung zu Arnold Schoenbergs Begleitmusik zu einer Lichtspielscene
, Introduction to Arnold Schoenberg’s ‘Accompaniment to a Cinematographic Scene’
, Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, West Germany, 1972, 16mm / DCP, colour and b&w, 15 min., German with English subtitles.
Presented as part of The Films of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet