Writings

Writings

Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet


Published by Sequence Press
May 2016
Edited, translated and with an introduction by Sally Shafto
Foreword by Miguel Abreu
Design by Scott Ponik
Paperback 148x213mm, 624pp., 34 b&w photographs, 135 pp. color reproductions 
ISBN 978-0-9832169-9-5

 

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A text is spoken; it merges the sphere of ideas, from which it comes, with an immediate and sensible sphere of bodies that give life to them, with a nature that sustains these bodies, and that they in turn nourish by naming it. The body, in which language resonates, becomes the body of the text itself and protracts its speaking.

Here trees are trees and become trees. We learn by taking pleasure in the sublime essence of colors (leaf-green, earth-brown, sky-blue, bronzed-skin...), of timbres (voices, birds, steps...), of textures (flesh, fabric, earth...), the irreversibility of gestures. 

These shots are rich in their concerted poverty: here’s how. 

—Anne Benhaïem 
from introduction to "Conception of a Film"

Sequence Press is pleased to announce the publication of the writings of the filmmaking couple Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, presented for the first time in a critical, English-language edition. Two of the most exacting directors of the past fifty years, Straub and Huillet are renowned for their meticulous adaptations of works by giants of Western art and literature: Sophocles, Corneille, Bach, Hölderlin, Cézanne, Brecht, Schoenberg, Kafka, Pavese, et al. The publication coincides with the first complete U.S. retrospective of their films opening on May 6 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the concurrent exhibition, Films and Their Sites, at Miguel Abreu Gallery.

Jean-Marie Straub came of age as a slightly younger contemporary of the French New Wave. Like those directors, he began his career writing film criticism. “Writing about films,” Jean-Luc Godard later said, “was already a way of making films.” This volume thus begins with Straub’s early film criticism from the 1950s and traces the evolution of over five decades of writing activity, from manifestoes and trenchant declaratory texts, to detailed descriptions of working methods, letters, questionnaires and select interviews and oral interventions. 

Writings opens with an introduction by Sally Shafto that provides an in-depth look at Straub and Huillet’s beginnings, within the context of the emergent filmmaking forces of the time. The book highlights their rigorous methodologies as translators of key texts, and the precision work required to adapt those translations for the screen. As Straub himself said, “We are the only European filmmakers, filmmakers of European nations. We make films in Italian as well as in French and in German. Who else can say that?” The book brings us behind the scenes and reveals how their publication practices mirrored those of their film production and distribution, as they often made distinct versions of the same film using alternative takes and different languages.

In addition to the published texts, the book comprises a richly illustrated Atelier section featuring three full length annotated film scripts, along with other pieces of writing, such as letters to their collaborators, shooting diagrams and schedules, lab notes, and press kits, all of which bring the reader into the heart of Huillet and Straub’s creative process. The volume closes with a Portfolio of intimate photographs of the filmmakers at work, with onsite observations by their long-time director of photography and collaborator, Renato Berta, and a detailed filmography.

Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet resolutely eschewed a Hollywood style of spectacle filmmaking to create some of the most raw and beautiful, as well as innovative and profoundly moving films of our times. Their writings open up a further understanding of their essential contributions, and their unique place in film history.

 

Contents

Foreword by Miguel Abreu
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Filmmakers at Work by Sally Shafto 
List of Films 

TEXTS
— 1950s
1. The 15th Venice Film Festival Began Brilliantly with the Americans 
2. Grisbi, the Japanese, and Buñuel’s Genius 
3. Does Rossellini’s Work Have a Christian Meaning? 
4. Five New Films by Rossellini 
5. Clouzot Smears the Viewer; Hitchcock Exalts the Public 
6. Who Is Nicholas Ray? 
7. Status of the New Filmmaker 
— 1960s
8. Once Upon a Time There Was a Little Filmmaker 
9. Portrait and Character 
10. M= M 
11. The Second Oberhausen Manifesto 
12. Not “Performing,” Reciting 
13. Frustration of Violence 
14. Encounter with the New German Cinema 
15. The Bach Film 
16. Questionnaire on Film and Narrative 
17. Straub Autobiography 
18. Presentation of Not Reconciled 
19. I Have Always Been Horrified … 
20. Peter Nestler, a Documentarian Not Reconciled 
21. On Ernst Lubitsch 
22. Protest 
23. The Bridegroom, the Actress, and the Pimp 
24. Introduction to Nestler 
25. Ferocious 
26. Mao’s Last Judgment 
27. Eliminate the System and the State 
— 1970s
28. Introduction to Othon 
29. Dubbing Is Murder 
30. Othon: Presentation for Its Broadcast on German Television
31. Filmcritica, Eisenstein, Brecht 
32. “Not Reconciled” with Television Censorship 
33. Filmmaking Must Retain Teamwork … 
34. Filmography of Jean-Marie Straub 
35. On The Business Affairs of Mr. Julius Caesar 
36. Interview on Direct Sound 
37. Small Historical Excursus 
38. Letter to the Export Union of German Cinema 
39. David Wark Griffith, Flower of the American Bourgeoisie 
40. Huillet Autobiography 
41. To Kluge 
— 1980s
42. Letter to Jean Narboni 
43. Witches (The Chimera?) 
44. How to “Correct” Nostalgia 
45. Letter to Fred Camper 
46. Reagan at Bitburg 
47. Fire: Alfred Edel 
48. Letter to Wim Wenders 
49. An Attack on the Reproducibility of a Work of Art 
50. Hölderlin, That Is Utopia 
51. Cézanne/Empedocles/Hölderlin/von Arnim 
52. Conference: Conception of a Film 
53. Filmcritica Is the Only Italian Review … 
— 1990s
54. S.D. 
55. Quite a Lot of Pent-Up Anger … 
56. Interview on Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach 
57. Debate on Images and Virtual Reality 
58. Interview on Images and Magic 
59. To the Inhabitants Alive and Dead of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
60. Interview: No Appeasement 
61. Autofilmography 
— 2000s
62. Letter About La Vallée close 
63. Questionnaire on Globalization 
64. Frans van de Staak Has Died … 
65. My Key Dates 
66. Questionnaire on May 1968 
67. Action Directe 
68. The Oil Spill 
69. Three Messages to the 63rd Venice International Film Festival 

Work Journal for Moses and Aaron
by Gregory Woods with Annotations by Danièle Huillet 

ATELIER
Letter to Renato Berta for Fortini/Cani 
Itinerary for Too Early,Too Late 
Letter to Willy Lubtchansky and Caroline Champetier for Too Early,Too Late 
Diagrams for The Death of Empedocles 
Shooting Schedule for Cézanne 
Lab Notes for Cézanne 
Negative Cutting Notes for Cézanne 
Sound Mix Notes for Cézanne 
Homage to Louis Hochet 
Shooting Notes for From Today until Tomorrow 
Letter to Willy Lubtchansky and Itinerary for Sicilia! 
Location Notes for Sicilia! 
Letter to Willy Lubtchansky About Sicilia!
Press Kit for Antigone 
Annotated Script for Antigone 
Press Kit for Workers, Peasants 
Annotated Script for Workers, Peasants 
Press Kit for A Visit to the Louvre
Annotated Script for A Visit to the Louvre 
Letter to Julie Koltaï for Her Birthday 
Press Kit for These Encounters of Theirs 
Annotated Script for These Encounters of Theirs 

PORTFOLIO by Renato Berta

Filmography 
Compendium of the Writings 
Selected Bibliography 
Index of Names 
Credits 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Cinema of Resistance
by P. Adams Sitney
Artforum, May 2016
PDF

Sick of Popcorn Movies? Straub-Huillet Retrospective Offers an Antidote
by J. Hoberman
The New York Times, May 3, 2016
PDF

"The beauty of art stirring us into thought": Some tributes to Straub-Huillet
by Aaron Cutler
Brooklyn Magazine, May 6, 2016
PDF

The Fire Still Burns: Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub at MoMA
by Craig Hubert
Artinfo, May 6, 2016
VIEW

Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet: Films and Their Sites
by Sean Nam
MUBI Notebook, May 11, 2016
VIEW

'We make our films so that audiences
can walk out of them'
by Nick Pinkerton
Frieze, May 17, 2016
VIEW

Assassinate the Bird: On Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet
by Max Nelson
n+1, May 24, 2016
VIEW

Jean-Marie Straub's "Status of the New Filmmaker
MUBI Notebook, June 16, 2016
VIEW

No Appeasement: Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet
by Daniel Fairfax
Senses of Cinema
, September 2016
VIEW

Notes of Actuality
by Kevin McMahon
Los Angeles Review of Books
, April 7, 2017
VIEW
$32.00