Marxist, rebellious, uncompromising, protester, rebellious, stormy and inflamed filmmaker, Jean-Marie Straub died on the night between November 19 and 20 in Rolle, Switzerland, at the age of 89. With his partner Danièle Huillet, who died on October 9, 2006, they wrote one of the most important pages of cinematographic modernity on the margins of the system, during an unparalleled human and artistic adventure.
The “Straubs”, as they were called, are the parents of one of the most beautiful and demanding works in the history of cinema, characterized by the presentation of images and sounds of literary or musical texts, those of authors “friends such as Bertolt Brecht, Friedrich Hölderlin, Johann Sebastian Bach, Arnold Schönberg, Cesare Pavese, Elio Vittorini, Pierre Corneille or Franz Kafka.A work carried out by an irreducible craftsmanship, firmly anchored to an ethical as well as aesthetic principle, that of reducing the means of staging to their most strict necessity.
Their films, reputedly difficult to access but celebrated worldwide, convey an intense poetry, that of a restored world as a whole, along its deep lines of fragmentation (class struggle, political conflicts, historical fractures).
Jean-Marie Straub, born on 8 January 1933 in Metz, became interested in post-war cinema, first marked by the lyrical and feverish films of Jean Grémillon, such as Trailers (1941), summer light (1942) or Heaven is yours (1943), popular works imbued with formal audacity, which he discovers presented by the influential critic Henri Agel at the “La chambre noire” film club in Metz. See also country party (1946), by Jean Renoir, e The ladies of the Bois de Boulogne (1945), by Robert Bresson, with such enthusiasm that it fell to him to program and animate the cineforum. The young Straub then plans to write about cinema, without yet thinking about making films. He studied literature (hypokhâgne) at the Lycée Fustel-de-Coulanges in Strasbourg, then graduated from the University of Nancy.
The new wave
He moved to Paris in November 1954 when the Algerian insurrection broke out. It is at the Lycée Voltaire, in the preparatory class of the Institute of Advanced Film Studies (ancient name of La Fémis), from which he is expelled after three weeks, that he meets Danièle Huillet. He then attended the “Young Turks” band of Film notebooks, including Jacques Rivette, François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, future directors of the New Wave. Straub receives some, such as Truffaut or the critic André Bazin (co-founder of notebooks), in his cineclub, in Metz, to present the American films of Fritz Lang or those of Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin, Roberto Rossellini, Kenji Mizoguchi – filmmakers who he defends ardently, often against the tide of the Federation’s cineclubs.
You still have 73.17% of this article to read. The following is for subscribers only.