On 20 November, French filmmaker Jean-Marie Straub passed away at the age of 89. Straub’s cinematic legacy is closely tied to that of his lifelong companion and collaborator Danièle Huillet, who died in 2006. Their partnership resulted in a beautiful and demanding oeuvre, which deeply affected the history of cinema. Often grounded in literary or musical texts, those of authors such as Bertolt Brecht, Friedrich Hölderlin or Franz Kafka, their work answers to an ethical as well as an aesthetic principle, that of reducing the means of staging to their strictest necessity.
“November 1954. I arrive in Paris (until then only a few round trips from Metz to Paris, by hitchhiking, to see certain films: Journal d’un curé de campagne, Los olvidados, The Quiet Man, Le fleuve, Le carrosse d’or, The Big Sleep, To Have and Have Not, Monkey Business, African Queen, Beat the Devil, Big Heat, Der blaue Engel, Subida al cielo, ...).
I meet Danièle Huillet and propose to her to work on what will become in 1967 Chronik der Anna Magdalena Bach. The first Algerian grenades explode on the Parisian pavement and on the terraces of distinguished cafés; ‘Péguy, Péguy, these are our men’, cries Joan of Arc.”
Front image: Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet on the set of Ces rencontres avec eux (2006). Photo: Marion Befve.