Straub-Huillet's brilliant distillation of Franz Kafka’s incomplete first novel Amerika is perhaps the author's most authentically German treatment, and an ecstatic, haunted fever dream of the United States.
In Straub-Huillet’s mesmerizing adaptation of Hölderlin’s tragic poem, written during the outbreak of the French Revolution, Greek philosopher Empedocles — who possessed magical healing powers through his communion with the gods and nature — is at the point of death.
Empedocles debates Pausanias, his loyal disciple, about the divine powers of love and strife that govern all matter in this adaptation of the unfinished late-18th-century play by the German lyric poet Frederich Hölderlin.
Straub-Huillet use passages from Gasquet's invaluable memoir of Paul Cézanne, together with pastoral scenes from Renoir’s Madame Bovary and photographs of Cézanne by the painter Maurice Denis, to make a moving and profound personal essay.
The tragedy of Antigone loses none of its dramatic force across the centuries in this classic retelling by Straub-Huillet; its themes of bloodlust and blindness, wisdom and sacrifice, resonating ever more intensely after war and genocide.
Straub-Huillet draw upon a pair of novels by Maurice Barrès, a celebrated Alsatian author, extreme nationalist, and ardent anti-Dreyfusard, to tell tales of perfidy, humiliation, and resistance during the German occupation of Alsace-Lorraine between 1870 and 1918.
The story, which Italo Calvino called a “choral narrative,” centers on a group of workers and peasants, many of them ordinary laborers and farmers, who rebuild their lives in the aftermath of the Second World War by reconstructing a destroyed village and forming a utopian community.
Straub-Huillet take as their inspiration the 1949 novel Women of Messina by the Sicilian writer Elio Vittorini, whose courageous wartime work in the underground Communist resistance press led to his imprisonment by the Fascists.
Straub-Huillet's visit to the Louvre reflects their fierce sentiments on art and their way of looking, using the words of Paul Cézanne to critique images, to be venomous about some artists and honey-tongued about others.
In Straub-Huillet's last feature length collaboration before Huillet's death in 2006, villagers gather in the Tuscan countryside to recite scenes from Cesare Pavese’s Dialogues with Leucò, a series of meditations on human destiny, both comical and tragic, between ancient Greek mythological figures.
Straub films Coton Island, home of Jean Bricard and site of Nazi atrocities, against a stark and leaden winter light, using deliberatively long tracking shots and nearly still compositions to evoke a kind of enduring resilience.
Mourning the death of his partner and collaborator Danièle Huillet, Straub finds tender mercy in music — such as Gustav Mahler’s Songs of the Earth: The Farewell (which the composer wrote in 1909 after the death of his daughter) — and nature.
In this haunting short work, the enchantress Circe recounts to Leucò her attempts to bewitch and bed Odysseus. She talks about men and women, the human and the divine, and the brave hero who chooses to become neither a pig nor a God.
In various guises and melodic fashion, Cornelia Geiser recites verses from Pierre Corneille’s Horace and Othon, and extended excerpts from Bertolt Brecht’s The Trial of Lucullus, in which the Roman General is summoned to the underworld to stand trial for the sufferings he inflicted on commoners and slaves
Returning from the forest of shades, a quietly defiant Orpheus tells a Bacchante it was free will, not destiny, which compelled him to cast the fatal gaze on his wife Eurydice, recognizing their love as a thing of the past and his own place in the world of living souls.
Another film based on Straub’s memories of growing up in Metz and a work by Maurice Barrès, in which a young country doctor, the son of a French Alsatian bourgeois, is forced to choose between “the French soul and the German deed."
Straub’s abridged retelling of Kafka's story, which has been interpreted in myriad ways and embraced and rejected in equal measure by Arabs and Jews of divergent persuasions, bears fascinating affinities with his and Huillet’s interpretation of the author's Amerika in Class Relations.
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