Jean-Marie Straub, French Filmmaker and Husband to Danièle Huillet, Dies at 89

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Jean-Marie Straub, French Filmmaker and Husband to Danièle Huillet, Dies at 89

With his late companion Danièle Huillet, French filmmaker Jean-Marie Straub produced a significant body of hard political films. He passed away on Saturday night in Rolle, Switzerland. He was 89.

Le Monde, a French newspaper, reported Straub’s passing.

When Huillet, along with Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Rivette, and François Truffaut, was a member of Cahiers du Cinema in Paris in 1954, Straub met her there. In order for Straub to avoid serving in the military during the Algerian War, the two immigrated to Germany.

The directing team drew on the writings and musical compositions of authors and composers like Franz Kafka, Johann Sebastian Bach, Bertolt Brecht, and Elio Vittorini to hone an uncompromising style throughout a wide range of work that was committed to investigating historical fragmentation and Marxist analysis of class struggle. Directors like Pedro Costa and Thom Andersen credit the two as major influences because they formed a sentimental, fiercely creative partnership that left its mark on political filmmaking around the world.

Jean-Marie Straub

After completing “The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach,” Straub and Huillet moved to Rome and produced a number of films there. The two spent fifty years trying to realize what Straub called “an abstract-pictorial fantasy,” paying respect to directors like Jean Renoir and Robert Bresson.

From the Clouds to the Resistance and Sicilia!, two of their most well-known movies, had their world premieres in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival. “Quei loro incontri,” their final project together, was screened in competition at the Venice Film Festival in 2006.

After the passing of Huillet, who passed away from cancer in 2006 at the age of 70, Straub continued to make movies, most recently directing an autobiographical short in 2016.

Straub, who was born in Metz, France, on January 8, 1993, studied literature at the Lycée Fustel-de-Coulanges in Strasbourg before graduating from the University of Nancy with a bachelor’s degree. The majority of Straub and Hullet’s lives were spent together. They didn’t have any kids.