Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub Film Retrospective  

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The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach

The first project of Straub and Huillet, conceived in the 1950s, based on years of research. As Straub wrote, Bach for him was one of the last people in German history in whom intelligence, art, and life was one. Classical harpsichordist Gustav Leonhardt plays Bach. Real musicians, dressed in the period clothing, play on historical instruments. Performances are shot in single takes, in direct sound, in locations were Bach himself worked, composed, and conducted his music. Performances are punctuated by the narration of Anna Magdalena Bach, telling the facts of their life. Straub: “the idea [was] to make a film where we used music not as accompaniment, nor as commentary, but as aesthetic matter.”

The respect that Straub and Huillet show for their subject matter is exemplary in the Bach film. They invite us to listen to whole Bach’s pieces without cutting them – music in the film is the protagonist, not the accompaniment. They were also avant-garde by insisting that Bach should be played on historical instruments. This is commonplace now, but in the 60s it was very rare! (Egidijus Mardosas)


Cahiers du Cinéma – Top 10 Film Award for Best Film, 1968


Film sessions

09.21 Thursday
  • Skalvija (Vilnius) 21:00 Presentation

09.26 Tuesday
  • Skalvija (Vilnius) 17:00 Presentation


Directors: Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub
Screenplay: Jean-Marie Straub, Danièle Huillet
Cinematography: Ugo Piccone, Giovanni Canfarelli Modica, Saverio Diamante
Editing: Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub
Sound: Louis Hochet, Lucien Moreau
Music: Johann Sebastian Bach
Producers: Gian Vittorio Baldi, Danièle Huillet, Franz Seitz, Jean-Marie Straub
Production: Filmproduktion
Germany, 1968, 96 min.