← Part of the Collection: Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub

After making the domestic servant pregnant, a woman who doubles his age, a young man of only seventeen years from the German bourgeoisie is sent by his family to the United States in order to avoid a huge scandal.


“Two quotes as dedications:

‘The title is just a hint.’

An interjection dropped by Danièle Huillet in a conversation with Wolfram Schütte, published as a chapter of the book Klassenverhältnisse (1984). Schütte is not satisfied with her answer, "it is certainly more than just a hint..." Jean-Marie Straub takes over, there is always much more to add. However, if we pause with Danièle, which direction could a hint open? Der Titel, ein Hinweis, pointing and redirecting attention from promotion and promise ("Amerika") towards relations through random units (class). A limitation to read the title in purely socio-economic terms is not suggested.

‘Perhaps one can get further if one understands fragments themselves as cookies.’

Rembert Hüser takes the last sentence of Kafka's "unfinished" novel as a hint: "eine Handvoll Keks" ("a handful of biscuits"). The association only propels through the translation of Keks as cookies. As a browsing-history (thread, memory, file), as unending reading? The story itself is not supposed to come to an end. If one doesn't learn to accept one's own class as a position ("Lerne Deine Stellung zu begreifen!" we hear Mario Adorf instructing his nephew), the journey, which (class) betrayal sets in motion, turns out as necessarily endless (unfinished, without arrival). The title of Hüser's essay: "Vorsingen in Amerika". Seeking as singing, applying as conversing.

What does the title hint at? "Wir wollen den Text, Amerika von Kafka prüfen, einfach prüfen." Testing a text, an experiment with an open end. The test result can be negative. Is it a language test?

Thinking of dialectics of control, what happens in Class Relations, it's not so much the image that seems affected by contingency; it is rather language that slips out of the control of the actors. Kafka's language unfolds a coexistent presence through the actors who keep their own presence. To choose a film from the comprehensive oeuvre of Huillet and Straub, I would not have thought of Class Relations. However, it struck me, listening to the performed German language and what it did to my perception of the film. It opened a new relation. Amerika brought me to New York.”

Annett Busch1

  • 1Annett Busch, “Class Relations,” Balthazar, 2023.
UPDATED ON 10.01.2024
IMDB: tt0087566