French filmmaker Jean-Marie Straub is dead

“The purity of the frames, sounds and texts has imposed a new way of making cinema, closer to the sincerity of speech and form”, wrote Sunday Frédéric Maire, the director of the Swiss Cinematheque, who has learned “with emotion” of this death.

Jean-Marie Straub had forged close ties with the Cinémathèque suisse. A “long and unfailing friendship” bound him to Freddy Buache, the former director of the Lausanne institution, recalls Frédéric Maire, who had followed his work closely for a long time and often received him in the archives and rooms of the Cinémathèque. .

In 2018, on the occasion of his 85th birthday, the filmmaker came to present his latest film, “Gens du Lac”, in world premiere. The story takes place in Rolle, on the shores of Lake Geneva, where he lived with Barbara Ulrich, his partner and producer.

Rejection of conventions

With Danièle Huillet, who died in 2006, he shot many films, a work “essential to our social, political and aesthetic history”, adds Frédéric Maire. One approach characterizes their works, which are mostly critical of the left and politics: the renunciation of the illusionist and emotional potential of cinema.

Read this article published in 2000: Straub-Huillet put their cinema at the service of Schönberg and Vittorini

With their emotionless style, they preferably transposed literary models from Kafka, Böll, Malraux and Hölderlin. They rejected commerce and convention, and resisted traditional cinema, Hollywood and the star system. Jean-Marie Straub won one of his greatest successes with “Chronik der Anna Magdalena Bach” (1968), shot with Danièle Huillet.

Born on January 8, 1933 in Metz, he was trained in cinema by watching films and attending the filming of directors such as Astruc, Bresson, Gance and Renoir. Fleeing France during the Algerian War, he found refuge in Germany. It was there that he moved on to directing, in 1963, with “Machorka-Muff” – based on a short story by Heinrich Böll – and became one of the figures of New German cinema.

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