At the moment when a shot of Straub=Huillet's film appears on the screen, we are caught by the sudden light coming in and it seems to seize our sight. At the beginning of Della nube alla resistanza, when the close-up of Cloud on the trees appears, the composition which arranges space which captured the sparkling green that is located in front of Ixion looking up at her continues. We can find this "existence of space as a subject" with surprise, by Straub=Huillet's great work. It is clear that the character isn't the center of the composition, the meeting the space behind him and himself is absolutely essential, and the line of ties embraces the power to grasp and not to release the viewers. When Straub=Huillet tell about what they had drawn as the character and background, they call it the monumentality (1). It is the same for their other films whose main location is the indoor, like Chronik der Anna Magdalena Bach and Klassenverhältnisse. Not only when the light that shines the white wigs of the players of Bachfilm gets conspicuous like the window into which the light comes in, the center of the composition capturing the three people focuses on the dark space beside the characters. In Othon, when the camera is trucking up, it moves forward at a high speed towards the horizon behind the characters. In Antigone, the stage is flat and there is no background anymore, so it is rare for Straub=Huillet to show a tree swinging in the distant wind with a long focus lens behind Antigone who is reciting. A composition that does not center on a character let us discover the coexistence of people and space.
Once Straub said that each image of Nicht Versöhnt is neither a message, nor function, nor talking, nor dramatic or psychoanalytic, each picture is one world, and it is a point in common with F. W. Murnau's film (2). The space behind the character in Straub=Huillet's films certainly reminds me of the space and depth that is spread behind the figures of Murnau's Nosferatu and Schloß Vogelöd, but it does not necessarily mean that Straub quoted the space from Murnau's films. When Straub=Huillet tells about the slope of the valley of Schwarze Sünde they mensioned to Stroheim's Blind Husband, it is not their quotation or imitation. When they mension the paintings of Giotto and Cezanne which became the theme of their films to grasp the world, but this does not imitate the painting by any means. Just by letting Straub=Huillet shoot the architectural properties of one's own person and the space, it combines the work of space of these pioneers with their shooting reality now taking, and the spectators who have left the cinema also continue It reminds me of the fact that I live in the space of this world I did. Respect this space, Straub=Huillet is said to be "to shoot reality with modesty."
When Straub praises Jean Renoir and Peter Nestler, we must tell about the direct recording and echoing in that space. When Straub quotes Renoir's word "Dubbing is an assassination and voice is the most important element to represent an individual" and says Nicht Versöhnt is the first german film that corresponds to the experiment of Renoir's Toni, whose direct recording to accent different from standards in France, and when he also says Nestler's delicate direct recording which is closely attached to the space is provocative*, we understand that films of Straub=Huillet are documentaries that connects literary texts and music like Corneille, Kafka, Schönberg, Hölderlin...with the actors who recite them and the reality at the time of shooting. For example, History Lessons is typical- a young man wearing a modern suit listens to Roman people who dressed in costumes of the ancient times (their words are the text of Brecht's novel). Come to think of it, this can applies not only to their films but also to all the films. Straub quoted Jacques Rivette's words that Babylonian episode of D.W.Griffith's Intolerance is a film about old era, but more than that it is a documentary of reality of actors, scenography, film itself, economy of the time (3)... (likewise Rivette's Jeanne Le Pucelle complete version will remain in posterity as a documentary of Jeanne d'Arc play-representation in France of 1992-93) In Trop tôt Trop tard, Straub=Huillet combine the recitation of texts about the evocation of farmers' memories of revolution and repression by Engels and Hussein, and the current sounds that fill the landscape of France and Egyptian rural areas. Also, even when actors actually appear in Klassenverhältnisse or Antigone, when the characters who finished their lines are exiting from the spot, the time that footsteps disappear from the space is respected and recorded, so that the audience is always conscious of the reality of the shooting itself. Sometimes, however, they do not forget the freedom for the continuity of cinema, like when the sudden appearance of Therese in the room of the hotel manager in the Klassenverhältnisse.
So how are the powerful words that echoes in the space of Straub-Huillet organized? "We decide the accent and pose with every actors (with each one), and Daniel writes lines after making the final draft, and we rewrite a few words or one section of the sentence into new paper, then Then it becomes like a poem that there are many new lines..." (4) Straub's words remind us people reciting Mallarmé in Toute révolution est un coup de dès. In films of Straub=Huillet, actors are those who recite as singers. With the superb recitation of Andreas von Rauf in Der Tod des Empedokles as a representative masterpiece of the 1980s cinema, warning of indiscriminate persecution to jewish people by Nazi in the letter of Schoenberg addressed to Kandinsky in Einleitung zu Arnold Schoenbergs Begleitmusik zu einer Lichtspielscene, reciting the part of the father's killing his daughter and the death of the double spy girl between Nazi and partisan in Paveze's masterpiece "La luna e i falò" in the last scene of Della nube alla resistanza, and Daniele Huillet's moral formation of voice lines by rhythm, high and low, breathing interval, silence in the recitation of the sentence of Joashan Gasquet..., embody the spirit of anger, resistance and warning contained in each sentence. So the part of Der Tod des Empedokles to be inserted in the reading of "Cezanne" is convinced very naturally, due to the similarity of the reading line despite the difference between French and German.
Where do those recitation reach? For example, at the beginning of Moses and Aaron-so powerful opera film whose counterpoint of such a tremendously dynamic percussion instruments and chorus, the camera capturing the back of the head of Moses will moving in the sky and following the ede of mountain as the chorus is expanding. In Chronik der Anna Magdalena Bach, the sky and the sea also appear at the end of the chorus' rising of Matthäus-Passion and Ascension Oratorio at St. Thomas Church, and a soprano solo of Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme accompanies the sky above the forest. There is also the light from the window in front of Therese telling about her mother's death in Klassenverhältnisse. When the grandmother in Nicht Versöhnt and the actress in Der Bräutigam, die Komödiantin und der Zuhälter, blast their anger with a flash of gunfire and silence, there also exist lights from the outside of the window. Certainly it sinks deeply with heavy voice like a stone line on the ground which is shown in the chorus section of the elders of Antigone, and reading by Franco Fortini in Fortini / Cani gradually gets hot while inserting white screens like a punctuation marks, and it looks like that passes through the horizon. There are strong correspondence of colours of voices and their vectors. And such voices and spaces in Straub=Huillet films head towards the supreme point that makes us fear at that highest moment. When Andreas von Rauch continues to recite toward Mount Etna twice in Der Tod des Empedokles, we have to be just stunned, even if we remember twice upward movement of Hitchkock's Vertigo in classic cinema. Encounter of incredible beautiful image and tremendous recitation. That is the top of the highest peak in contemporary cinema.
(1) Cahiers du Cinema no.364
(2) Cahiers du cinéma no.180
(3) Straub-Huillet film / a cura di Riccardo Rosetti,1984
(4) from interview by Wolfram Schütte 1984 translated from germany to japanese by Kenzo Horikoshi, in the catalogue which the eurospace published when Klassenverhältnisse was released in Japan, in 1986)
(first publishing; Kinema Jumpo early December 1997 issue)
*20 years later, after I saw Peter Nestler's Mülheim(Ruhr) (1964)-silent with Dieter Süverkrüp's wonderful guitar, I guess the film might have influenced on Straub=Huillet's Nicht Versöhnt...(in terms of that Straub himself defines Nicht Versöhnt as a lacunary film)