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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Jean-Marie Straub (born 8 January 1933 in Metz, France) and Danièle Huillet (1 May 1936 in Paris – 9 October 2006 in Cholet) were a duo of filmmakers who made two dozen films between 1963 and 2006. Their films are noted for their rigorous, intellectually stimulating style.

Though both were French, they worked mostly in Germany and Italy.



Jean-Marie Straub met Danièle Huillet as a student in 1954. Straub was involved in the Parisian cinephile community of the time, and was a friend of François Truffaut. Between 1954 and 1958, Straub worked as an assistant to the film directors Robert Bresson, Abel Gance, Jean Renoir, and Jacques Rivette. Straub and Huillet made their first film together, an 18-minute short called Machorka-Muff in 1963; it was based on a story by Heinrich Böll. Their next film, the 55-minute Not Reconciled, was also a Böll adaptation. They did not make a full-length feature until 1968's Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach, after which they made films at a fairly even rate, completing a feature every 2–3 years. In 1968, they also made a short film starring Rainer Werner Fassbinder and his theatre troupe called The Bridegroom, the Actress and the Pimp. During their career, they adapted two Arnold Schoenberg operas, as well as Franz Kafka's first novel, Amerika.

They married in 1959, and the two lived together for most of their lives. They had no children.

Huillet died of cancer in Cholet on 9 October 2006. Straub currently resides in Rome and Paris.

Style and content

All of the films of Straub and Huillet are based on other works: novels, operas, plays and less conventional source materials, such as political writings. Many of their films, such as Klassenverhältnisse, stress the relationship between the original text and the film. Their movies also have a strong Marxist political overtone, with certain works.

Aesthetically, their films are often described as being 'austere'. They utilize long, immobile takes, often framed in an unconventional but seemingly primitive way. Key actions or objects are often not shown, leaving the audience instead to imagine them or have them described by the characters. Straub and Huillet also make heavy use of direct sound and non-professional actors.


Due to his more extroverted nature, Jean-Marie Straub served as the public face of the couple and it was therefore assumed that Huillet's role in their filmmaking process was secondary. In reality, the two split their work equally, with Straub responsible for the shooting and production, Huillet controlling most of the editing and post-production duties and the two being equally responsible for the pre-production, texts and rehearsals. This method can be seen in Pedro Costa's documentary Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie?, filmed during the editing of Sicilia!, one of their last features.


Further reading

  • Landscapes of Resistance: The German Films of Daniele Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub (1995) by Barton Byg
  • The Art of Seeing, the Art of Listening: The Politics of Representation in the Work of Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet (2004) by Ursula Boser
  • 'The Invention of Place: Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub's Moses and Aaron.' (2006) by Jacques Aumont In: M.Lefebvre (Ed.): Landscape and Film, London & New York: Routledge
  • Danièle Huillet et Jean-Marie Straub « objectivistes » en cinéma (2009), by Benoît Tuquety, Lausanne, L’Âge d’homme.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Straub–Huillet" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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