Filmmaker Jean-Marie Straub has died

Marxist filmmaker, rebellious, uncompromising, protestant, rebellious, stormy and inflamed, Jean-Marie Straub died on the night of November 19-20 in Rolle in Switzerland at the age of 89. Together with his companion Danièle Huillet, who died on 9 . October 2006, they wrote one of the most important pages of cinematic modernity on the fringes of the system during an unparalleled human and artistic adventure.

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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.Works of an irreducible craftsmanship, firmly rooted in an ethical as well as aesthetic principle, to reduce the means of staging to their strictest necessity.

Their films, known to be difficult to access but celebrated around the world, deliver an intense poetry, a world restored as a whole, along its deep lines of fragmentation (class struggle, political conflicts , historical breaks).

Jean-Marie Straub, born 8 January 1933 in Metz, became interested in cinema after the war, first influenced by Jean Grémillon’s lyrical and feverish films, such as Trailers (1941), summer light (1942) or The sky is yours (1943), seems both popular and imbued with formal audacity, which he discovered presented by the influential critic Henri Agel at the film club “La chambre noire” in Metz. He sees too campaign party (1946), by Jean Renoir, and The ladies of the Bois de Boulogne (1945), by Robert Bresson, with such enthusiasm that the programming and animation of the film club fell to him. The young Straub then plans to write in the cinema without yet thinking about making films. He studied literature (hypokhâgne) at the Lycée Fustel-de-Coulanges in Strasbourg and then passed his degree at the University of Nancy.

The new wave

He moved to Paris in November 1954 when the Algerian uprising broke out. It was at the Lycée Voltaire, in the preparatory class for the Institute of Advanced Film Studies (the former name of La Fémis), from which he was expelled after three weeks, that he met Danièle Huillet. He then frequented the band of “Young Turks” from Cinema notebooks, including Jacques Rivette, François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, future New Wave filmmakers. Straub receives some of them, such as Truffaut or the critic André Bazin (co-founder of Notebooks), in his film club in Metz to present the American films of Fritz Lang or those of Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin, Roberto Rossellini, Kenji Mizoguchi – filmmakers he vigorously defends, often against the tide of the Federation film clubs.

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