Jean-Marie Straub's first film after the death of Danièlle Huillet is a love poem to her.
“"Someone you love is dead?"
Memories quickly become hazy and therefore text can remain the most vivid testimony of a person. Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub's films are proof of this: that the text, written by an author long gone, is alive. When we read it, recite it, relate to it, not only the text but also its author lives.
My mother died when I was young and I remember her sitting on the floor drawing, sewing, walking around the garden, pruning flowers. But my memories of her are dim and hazy. When I first read a sermon, she had written, with her added pen corrections and notes and crossings out, she seemed, through the text, far more alive to me than in my memories.
Danièle Huillet died on October 9, 2006. Two years later, Jean-Marie Straub made Le genou d'Artémide alone, the first film without her. I imagine Jean-Marie's sadness of not being able to sit with Danièle in the editing suite, talking and discussing. Silence, in the sense of not speaking, has always been of particular importance in Huillet and Straub's films. But the silence after an actor's finished line cannot help but take on a new meaning after her death.
In an interview, actor Andreas von Rauch recounted an episode during the production of Der Tod des Empedokles (1987) in which Danièle insisted that he pronounce the words "sorrowful" and "silence" with equal measure. "Sorrowful" should not be stressed more forcefully than "silence", as the connection between the two words would be lost and with it, its meaning. Only together and as equals are the meaning clear. Silence is sorrowful.”