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A Straub-Huillet Retrospective

MUBI Special

MUBI is proud to announce the first-ever online retrospective of one of the most important filmmaking partnerships, the husband and wife team of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet. Since their debut, Machorka-Muff (Venice Film Festival, 1962), this duo, frequently referred to as the unified front of Straub-Huillet, has carved their own path through cinema, making fiercely materialist and confrontative films of staunch political commitment against capitalism, oppression, fascism, and historical amnesia. Fastidiously basing their films on great works of art, yet rooting their adaptations in the present—and much-contested—moment of post-war European history, the duo’s range encompasses Bach, Heinrich Böll, Corneille, Brecht, Pavese, and Schoenberg. MUBI’s 13-film retrospective will be presenting new digital restorations.

Communists

Jean-Marie Straub France, 2014

The final entry in our Straub-Huillet retrospective and the most recent feature by Straub (Huillet died in 2006) composes scenes from their movies to reveal a story told across their work: that of the attempt to forge community and resistance. A boldly reflective exploration of history and cinema.

Workers, Peasants

Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub Italy, 2001

A profound example of the unusual collaboration between Straub-Huillet and an amateur Italian theater in Buti, and a bracing adaptation of Elio Vittorini’s writing, which the duo had previously adapted with Sicilia! People, landscape, history, and storytelling merge and confront us powerfully.

The Death of Empedocles

Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub France, 1987

Through their adaptations, the films of Straub-Huillet transmit history and its re-interpretations of the world. Thus in this extraordinary, dense drama the story of a Greek proponent of communal utopia is written by a German poet at the time of the French Revolution—and then filmed in Sicily.

Class Relations

Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub West Germany, 1984

One of Straub-Huillet’s best-known films, their adaptation of Kafka’s unfinished novel joins The Southerner, Zabriskie Point, and Paris, Texas as an essential outsider portrait of the American Dream. The nationality of today’s immigrant may be different, but the experience remains the same.

Too Early, Too Late

Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub Egypt, 1982

Collided, compared, brought together: France and Egypt; the 18th century and the 20th; revolution and colonialism; the fields and the city; the land and the people; the past and the present. Such is the cinema of Straub-Huillet: dialectical to its very being, always questioning, forever pursuing.

From the Clouds to the Resistance

Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub Italy, 1979

The first of many rewarding encounters between Cesare Pavese and Straub-Huillet, who adapt the Italian author’s tales of the meeting between gods and men—set in nature—with a sensual directness. Here too is part of his great post-war novel, thereby connecting the heavens to earth and man’s violence.

Fortini/Cani

Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub Italy, 1976

Our Straub-Huillet retrospective leaps into the 20th century to meet Franco Fortini and, through his writing, encounter Italian fascism, resistance, and the thread of violence extending beyond World War II. Along with his words, the verdant landscape is revealed as a site of struggle and death.

Moses and Aaron

Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub West Germany, 1975

One of Straub-Huillet’s most iconic films, their bold approach to cinematic adaptation was to record live singing in the desert in order to spark a direct encounter between viewer and Schoenberg’s profound music. The libretto’s drama is as important: a tale of leadership, rebellion, and miracles.

History Lessons

Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub Italy, 1972

Modern-day traffic in Rome and the life of Julius Caesar collide in this radical adaptation of a Brecht novel. Straub-Huillet continue to fearlessly remove the gap between Roman history and Italy’s 20th century by revealing Caesar’s transformative impact through ancient characters and modern images.

Eyes Do Not Want to Close at All Times, or, Perhaps One Day Rome Will Allow Herself to Choose in Her Turn

Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub West Germany, 1970

We leave Germany for imperial Italy in our next Straub-Huillet film, a brazen historical drama that fuses 1969 Rome with Corneille’s 17th century play to invoke the drama of power struggles across the centuries. The past is shown as fiercely alive and old texts speak vividly of the present moment.

Not Reconciled, Or Only Violence Helps Where Violence Rules

Jean-Marie Straub West Germany, 1965

50 years of German history in nearly 50 minutes, such is Straub-Huillet’s audacity. For such a scope, the duo reject conventional storytelling in favor of a more confrontative, daring cinema. Time and people are fragmented across eras in order to discover the past within the present—and vice versa.

Machorka-Muff

Jean-Marie Straub, Danièle Huillet West Germany, 1963

We launched our retrospective of filmmakers Straub-Huillet with their most well-known film, and now we resume with their first: a blistering adaptation of Heinrich Böll. The film’s remarkably complex story and high modernist style is a vision of post-war German society by turns wry and ruthless.

Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach

Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub West Germany, 1968

MUBI is proud to launch the first online retrospective of directors Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet. Their beautiful, fiercely engaged, and staunchly confrontative films are landmarks of modernist cinema. We begin with their boldly unconventional Bach biopic that gloriously exalts his music.

Life is too short for bad films

Every day we hand-pick a beautiful new film and you have a whole month to watch it, so there’s always 30 perfectly curated films to discover.