"The fact which interested me was to make a film about Nazism without mentioning the word Hitler or concentration camps and such things that a middle class family did not suspect or want to suspect." — Jean-Marie Straub
This month, filmfront discusses German filmmakers Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet debut 1965, 50-minute film, NOT RECONCILED (or ONLY VIOLENCE HELPS WHERE VIOLENCE REIGNS), a movie that takes a formally radical approach to telling the story of a family of architects, the Fämel’s, trying to understand their place in Germany’s violent first half of the 20th century and the effect of Nazism on three generations. Based on Heinrich Böll's 1958 novel Billiards at Half Past Nine, the film's rigorous and highly disorienting narrative interweaves the multi-generational stories of grandfather, son and grandson, often times jumping between three different eras (The First World War, 1930s Third Reich, and 1960s Post-War Germany) in no particular order, giving the feeling of a continuous present in the lives of all three protagonists. There are two constants in the film’s timeframe—the grandmother's dissidence and an abbey the grandfather built before the wars—but even these do not make it easy to comprehend Germany’s tumultuous history in these years.
NOT RECONCILED (or ONLY VIOLENCE RULES WHERE VIOLENCE REIGNS)
by Jean Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet
1965, digital projection, 55 min