Close Up

22 May 2019: Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach


Dialogue of Shadows
Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub, 2014, 28 min
French with English subtitles

The text of Dialogue of Shadows originates from a short early novel written by George Bernanos, which Straub and Huillet wanted to bring to the cinema when they first met in the 1950s: a man and a woman are engaged in a dialogue talking about their love for each other. Though the film was not finished until 2014, it was co-credited posthumously to Danièle Huillet.

Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach
Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub, 1967, 93 min

"The starting point for our Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach", wrote Straub, "was the idea to make a film where we used music not as accompaniment, nor as commentary, but as aesthetic matter…" The film was Straub and Huillet’s first project, conceived in the 1950s. It is the result of years of research about the music and biography of Johann Sebastian Bach. The facts of Bach’s life are spoken by his wife, Anna Magdalena Bach, who reads from documents, letters, texts and other elements. The musical moments, performed by Gustav Leonhardt and various ensembles, were shot in single takes, in direct sound, and are presented according to the date of their composition, with period instruments and orchestrations in the same rooms where Bach conducted his music.

Part of the touring retrospective The Films of Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub