June 21, 2016

May 18, 2016

I kill the living...
and I save the dead.

It is written for everyone to die.
              It makes no difference.

Yes. Except for that little
matter of when, and for what.

Bitter Victory (1957)

May 1, 2016


for Huillet...


Question: The idea of ​​modernity can only be associated with barbarism?

Danièle Huillet: If it is handled by the bourgeoisie, certainly...

--In May, 2003, Huillet sent a letter to the Brussels Cinematek (here), in reply to their interest in including Straub and her films in a themed program called Paysages"The theme 'Landscape' is madness," she wrote, and listed the films of others that could be shown:

DIE NORD KALOTTE (Peter Nestler)
and Nestler's latest film on the VAL D'AOSTE.



Contemporary with Erich von Stroheim's THE MERRY WIDOW (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer), John Ford directed KENTUCKY PRIDE in 1925 for Fox (6597 feet).

Ford made four films in 1925: LIGHTNIN', KENTUCKY PRIDE, THE FIGHTING HEART, and THANK YOU. 

KENTUCKY PRIDE is the story of a horse through a horse menaced by money, exploitation, and physical injury--which of course can mean death for a horse at the hands of man--and loved by stableboys and life's gamblers, to the point of fame.

KENTUCKY PRIDE was a popular film. It played at the Seattle, Washington, Pantages Theater preceded by the short "Hungry Hounds", a Pathe newsreel, and a Vaudeville musical program; at the Majestic Theater in Houston, Texas, with Pathe "Aesop's Fables" cartoons...

For no particular reason KENTUCKY PRIDE is one of the rarest, least screened of Ford's films, though MoMA New York holds a fine print...

The following is an English translation of an excerpt about KENTUCKY PRIDE from an interview with Huillet and Straub entirely on John Ford from the Ford Cahiers du cinéma hors serie of 1995.

Huillet and Straub on 

STRAUB:     In Ford there is an absolutely insane social acuity with every character. After having seen KENTUCKY PRIDE and LIGHTNIN', both equally magnificent, I finally understood the question I'd asked myself for a long time about Ford. While there is a story, a fiction, a narrative that proves itself more and more rich as the film progresses, this does not prevent Ford from beginning in an extremely documentary manner, poor at the level of story, as if there weren't going to be any narration -- one also finds this in DR. BULL. Take a look at KENTUCKY PRIDE: for how long do we see the horses? (In the film we see many shots of horses before their "professional" life --Ed.) And it's even more amazing with the text on the screen, and to think of what Bresson said to us when we visited him in 1954 and told him about our project CHRONICLE OF ANNA MAGDALENA BACH. We talked a little and he let fly: "It is the word which creates the image." Danièle started getting pissed off. These horses, they're there and they tell a different story.

HUILLET:     Ford, in his shots, doesn't tell the story that's in the text of the intertitles. We have the shots and understand what's going on between the characters. 

STRAUB:     One understands a silent Ford with Czech intertitles better than a Mizoguchi without subtitles. 

HUILLET:     He doesn't try to mimic something about horses that would correspond to the text. Ford and his horses, that was the technique of the miracles in MOSES UND ARON. That was Fordian, indeed. 

STRAUB:     It wasn't me who said it (laughs. Silence). He filmed his horses as we filmed the snake.

HUILLET:     And Ford, who didn't love camera movement, here, because of the horses, moves a lot. Just as we did with the snake. It forced us to move.

STRAUB:     We had planned a fixed shot with a snake crossing the frame, but that doesn't exist. We filmed 985 feet times three with a constantly moving camera. With horses it's the same. Incidentally there's no narration, just the documentary, a film begins. Slowly, the narrative becomes richer and it never kills the documentary, it doesn't vampirize it. With Ford, the fiction is never pretentious, it's not a parasite that kills the tree of cinema, an acid that eats everything, a smoke that gets in your eyes, but a thing set at the level of children's stories while still being extremely rich, with the full weight of reality.

HUILLET:     That was the whole problem posed by MOSES UND ARON, namely, that one must not let the images block the imagination; it's like that with Ford from the very beginning, that's the way he breathes. Ford doesn't saturate the imagination or reality with anything he shows or tells, and that is extraordinary. 


Past May Day Commemorations of Danièle Huillet on Kino Slang

2007 - Examine Caesars 
2008 - Song of Two Humans, But...!
2009 - This Land is Mine
2010 - Men Without Women
2011 - Freedom
2012 - Small Grasses
2013 - That's Just What We Intend
2014 - The Lizards
2015 - (no post -- misery)
2016 - Free Horse

April 10, 2016

Viaduct in Los Angeles 
photographed by F.W. Murnau

March 10, 2016

SEASONS (Pelechian, 1975)

February 8, 2016

Rivette on Judex (1963, Georges Franju)



Or the return to sources: it is, more than ever, the shot, the image that is guiding the film; it’s its logic that is in charge of the events. That is, any remark is in vain that doesn’t first take this into account: white and black, their nuances, their contrasts, their interplay and conflicts: this is the subject matter of Judex — but without referent, or reference, to some ‘beyond’, or abstract signification, within their appearances alone, and those by which they dress things up. Of those obscure silhouettes clinging to the length of a wall bathed by Kleig lights, there is nothing to infer, except to contemplate their inexorable ascent; of those human-birds, metaphysical-nothing, except to follow the ritual of an unknown ceremony, whose order is precisely (as we see it, as we go along) to open itself up by a pent-up pigeon, and to end in death: this is true, then false, but true resurrection, as Edith Scob, as it so happens [“au fil de l’eau”], is a real dead girl and a fake drowned one, then the opposite. 

Nothing but appearances, but all in the same movement as their emergence, their birth, their invention: secret of the origin of the cinema, that exists here as though it were, from now on, no longer referring to a secret. But at the same time, our astonishment before it: Franju is at once the one who, through science, rediscovers the secret, and the modern one who knows it’s lost — and, astonishing himself with his power, keeping watch over the secret, affirming it, at last, beyond all doubt. 

Jacques Rivette
Cahiers du cinéma, 
no. 154, April 1964

This English translation, made in 2008 by Craig Keller, first appeared in the booklet of the Eureka/Masters of Cinema DVD edition of Georges Franju's Judex (1963) and Nuits Rouges (1973). Many thanks to Keller for his kind permission to publish it here. 

February 1, 2016

Rivette on Eisenstein (1956)


An Esoteric Order

Eisenstein's writings most often treat questions of montage and time, but his genius is nevertheless essentially plastic. Undoubtedly he devoted himself to problems of rhythm for such a long time simply because they always remained problems for him, problems he never really solved. That evolution which everyone deplores is deplorable only because there are always observers to lament the fact that creators extend themselves to the limit of their capacities. Ivan the Terrible, the culmination of Eisenstein's career, is also the apotheosis of his plastic genius. And we must understand "plastic" in its highest sense. Geometrical obsessions, the systematic deformation of lines, the amplification of stylization of gestures, all those processes which most diretors use only as affectation or in an attempt to disguise their weaknesses, are here really the goal of direction. There is no need to paraphrase Malraux to show that it is impossible to separate the role of metaphysics from that of expression, and that Eisenstein's greatness lies precisely in the union of the two. The most formal of directors is haunted by the sacred; in his work everything tends toward the ceremonial, and the ceremony can be that of the oratorio, of ballet, or of religious celebration. Everything is directed, not toward a new way of reproducing reality, but toward finding a style of "representation," almost an allegorical figuration. The combined influences of, among other things, Noh drama, Leonardo, and the rites of the orthodox Church, finally create a universe of pure liturgy in which the aesthetic replaces the mystical. Beyond all doubt, Eisenstein's ambition is of an esoteric order. But far from harming him, this esoteric quality is perhaps the best guarantee of his survival. Earth and Mother have lost their prestige within a few years because their directors had no secrets, they had only processes. Eisenstein, on the other hand, staked his all on the realm of the secret and voluntarily submitted all the spectacular elements of his films to wholly abstract and private thought. 

Jacques Rivette
Arts (#561)
March 28, 1956