Close Up

29 May 2019: Not Reconciled


Not Reconciled or Only Violence Helps Where Violence Rules
Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub, 1965, 52 min
German with English subtitles

Not Reconciled is based on a novel by Heinrich Böll, Billiards at Half Past Nine, that chronicles three generations of a bourgeois German family of architects from the 1910s through the Nazi era to the economic "miracle" of postwar Germany. The filmmakers treat Böll’s narrative as a document, stripping it of any anecdotal or psychological elements. They accumulate evidence and achieve historical concreteness in order to reveal the continuity of the violence of the past in the present and to provide a cinematographic, moral and political reflection on the last fifty years of German life.

Introduction to Arnold Schoenberg's "Accompaniment to a Cinematographic Scene"
Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub, 1972, 15 min
German with English subtitles

In 1929 Schoenberg wrote the music for an imaginary film, subtitling the composition with the words "threatening danger, fear, catastrophe". Straub and Huillet use this as a starting point for their Marxist and anti-imperialist essay about the "intolerable present", as critic Serge Daney has put it. Archival footage of the war and bombings in Vietnam, images of the dead of the Paris Commune and other documents are combined and edited together with a reading of two historical texts. One is a letter written in 1923 by Schoenberg to Wassily Kandinsky about the painter’s complicity with the anti-Semitic policies of the German government; the second is an extract from Bertolt Brecht’s speech to the International Congress in Defence of Culture in 1935, condemning anti-Semitism and denouncing the inextricable link between fascism and the barbarism of capitalism.

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