Daily Archives: February 11, 2018

Straub-Huillet’s ÉCRITS and a Few Comparable Insights

 I’ve lost track of when I originally posted this, but it may have been on March 21, 2012. In any case, the English version of this collection is now available. — J.R.


This book has clearly been a long time coming. Like Pedro Costa and (the otherwise very different) Alain Resnais, Jean-Marie Straub and the late Danièle Huillet should be regarded as film critics and film historians who aren’t really writers in any ordinary sense. (Resnais’ critical and historical gifts, I would argue, are mainly apparent in his films rather than in his interviews.) When I curated the last American retrospective of Straub-Huillet’s work to date almost thirty years ago, the accompanying catalogue of essays that I put together to accompany this event, partially with their advice and assistance, included a lengthy section entitled “Straub and Huillet on Filmmakers They Like and Related Matters,” drawn from a dozen separate sources and translated, when necessary, by me — not always gracefully, I’m sorry to say. (I’ll be posting my lengthy Introduction to this catalogue a couple of days from now.)

Although it’s beyond my current means to reproduce the entirety of “Straub and Huillet on Filmmakers They Like and Related Matters” here (I wish I could), I can offer a sampling from it below, some of which appears in their original French in Écrits (e.g., the texts on Lubitsch and Dreyer), and some of which is drawn from interviews and public appearances in English (e.g., the texts on Tati, Renoir, Buñuel, Hawks, and Nicholas Ray), which don’t appear there.Read more »

Figuring Out DAY OF WRATH

The following, a revision and substantial expansion of liner notes that I wrote for the Criterion DVD of Day of Wrath several years ago, was written for the Australian DVD, which came out in 2008  on the Madman label — as did my essay on Ordet. (One can order DVDs from Madman’s site, and by now they have quite a collection.) My thanks to Alexander Strang for giving me permission to reprint this. — J.R.

Figuring Out Day of Wrath by Jonathan Rosenbaum

I first encountered Carl Dreyer’s work in my teens, but it wasn’t until my 40s that I started to be ready for it. I mainly had to rely on lousy 16-millimeter prints, so ruinous to the sounds and images of Day of Wrath that I could look at that film only as a form of painterly academicism, a repressed view of repression. The film defeated me with its unalleviated Danish gloom and its dull pacing, which I associated with Dreyer’s strict Lutheran upbringing. Most of this was sheer nonsense, as I discovered once I had access to better prints, information, and reflexes. For one thing, contrary to many would-be reference works, Dreyer’s upbringing was neither strict nor Lutheran, and he was born a Swede, even if he grew up in Denmark.Read more »