Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub began making films in the 1960s and continued until Huillets death in 2006. In their humorous 1982 short En Rachâchant, the pair adapts a story by Marguerite Duras about a boy who refuses to learn. His fretful parents take him to school to confront his teacher, who tells young Ernesto that instruction is obligatory. Ernesto replies that it is a crime, and indeed, the deft cinematography, with its studied pans and high-angle shots peering down at the boy, underlines the invisible vectors of discipline surrounding his diminutive body. He resists nevertheless, and this resistance a theme that runs through Straub and Huillets body of work is captured in a filmmaking practice that prevents traditional patterns of character identification and visual pleasure. In the pairs feature-length Class Relations (1984), tracking shots of various landscapes offer brief moments of motion in a film otherwise filled with looonng static shots that encase the characters in clearly defined paradigms of power. The film is based on Franz Kafkas unfinished first novel, Amerika, about a boy named Karl who is sent to the U.S. after being seduced by a servant. Once in this country, Karl encounters a series of increasingly complicated and often quite comical circumstances that center on proper class behavior. Despite his best efforts, he manages to offend everyone, and his situation goes from bad to worse. The black-and-white film wont let you identify with Karl; instead, Straub and Huillet put the viewer in a critical viewing position that demands thoughtful engagement, and the result is a rare and exceptional experience not to be missed. REDCAT; Mon., May 7, 8 p.m. (213) 237-2800 or www.redcat.org.
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