Undaunted by a commission to make a film about his mentors and aesthetic exemplars, the filmmaking team of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, Costa records with great sensitivity and insight the exacting process by which the two re-edit their film Sicilia!, discussing and arguing over each cut and its effect. Incorporating comments about the influence of figures as diverse as Chaplin and Eisenstein, about the ethical and aesthetic implications of film technique and such matters as rhythm, sound mixing, and acting. The film becomes a tour de force, immersing us in the mysteries of cinema as practiced by some of its greatest creators. Costa calls the film both his first comedy and his first love story.
Huillet: That palm tree is a nuisance.
Straub: Let it sway.
Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub in Où gît votre sourire enfoui?
“There are those who stick close to reality and do not put their imagination in there, their limited imagination of limited creatures. And then there are those who distort reality for the sake of the so-called wealth of their imagination. The result is that the imagination is much more limited in the work of the second family than in that of the first. Because there is less patience in the work of the second family and, as someone once said, genius is nothing more than a great deal of patience. Because if you have a great deal of patience, it is charged with contradictions at the same time. Otherwise it doesn’t have the time to be charged. Lasting patience is necessarily charged with tenderness and violence... There’s a temptation to show a mountain. Then one fine day you realize that it’s better to see as little as possible. You have a sort of reduction, only it’s not a reduction, it’s a concentration and it actually says more. But you don’t do this immediately from one day to the next! You need time and patience. A sigh can become a novel.”
Q&A with Pedro Costa and Chris Petit, following a screening of Où gît votre sourire enfoui? (2001), Costa’s revealing study of the filmmaking process which captures Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet at work in the editing room on their drama Sicilia! (1999).
- 1. Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, editing Sicilia!, in Où gît votre sourire enfoui? (Pedro Costa, 2001)