Dalla nube alla resistenza - Straub-Huillet, 1979, 35mm
Mark Fisher has written on Straub-Huillet for the new issue of Film Quarterly. The article isn't available online, but I've uploaded a pdf here. Particularly of note:
It has to be stressed that Straub–Huillet did not want their films to be watched only by film buffs and intellectuals; but perhaps the audience that they did seek — the masses who would appreciate their brand of Brechtian modernism — has not yet come into being. Or — to be more gloomy — perhaps the moment when it might have come into being has been and gone.
There is another example of a Straubian shot [in Sicilia!]: at one point during the railway carriage scene, the camera leaves the characters on the train to show instead the apparently empty landscape outside for several minutes. I say 'apparently' because it is important to question our unreflective assumption that such spaces are indeed empty. Deleuze maintains in Cinema II that, in Straub–Huillet’s films, an 'empty space, without characters [...] has a fullness in which there is nothing missing' (p.245). One has to learn to see such 'fullness,' which is not likely to be perceived by the casual viewer, who is more likely to find the Straubian shots frustrating and boring. How is Deleuze’s idea of fullness to be understood in this context? It is worth noting that Deleuze sees geology as continuous with politics. The idea of social 'stratification' is not just a vague metaphor in Deleuze’s work, but rather an expression of the way in which both human populations and the earth are shaped by vast impersonal processes. The unpeopled is therefore not the same as the empty.
On set and in the interview with Blank, Straub and Huillet are a study in contrasts: he, sitting in a chair, a cigarette permanently clamped in his jaws, both garrulous and wary; she, sitting on the floor, her back to the wall, occasionally interrupting him—but more often being interrupted by him, yet always maintaining a quiet authority. In the interview with Blank, Straub and Huillet discuss the placing of the camera in Class Relations. They wanted the camera to have a point of view that was not “objective” but also that was not Karl’s. Creating this point of view was a technical feat that, Straub says, was akin to a chess puzzle. Again, the issue is not one of identification—the refusal to align the camera’s point of view with that of the Rossmann character denies the viewers that option—but one of solidarity. What could sum up their Brechtian Marxism better than the invention of what Huillet calls this 'brotherly' point of view?