chapter  1
18 Pages

the invention of place: danièle huillet and jean‑marie straub’s moses and aaron

We know a great deal about the origins of this film, Moses and Aaron. The premise, like many other films by Straub and Huillet, remains a desire to confront the medium of film with a preexisting text that somehow resists it. Such as the text of Othon, by Pierre Corneille, which resisted being captured on film with its highly compact intrigue and the essentially foreign character of its seventeenth century language, Arnold Schoenberg’s opera poses its own difficulties. It resists being captured on film by the density of its politico-theological debate, by the violence of its intrigues around power, not to mention its strange musical composition, with its technique of twelve tones that forces us to deal with a musical language we are not accustomed to hearing. In each case, the filmmakers’ preoccupation was to superimpose a film script over the drama of the text-because film is not theatre-without, however, altering the nature of the drama specific to the text.