Danièle Huillet et Jean-Marie Straub

    Jean-Marie Straub was born in Metz on 8 January, 1933. Danièle Huillet was born on 1st May 1936 and died in October 2006.


    In 1962, eight years after they first met, Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub shot their first film in which the couple already imposed a particular production system. They directed, wrote, edited and produced all their films themselves in order to maintain their creative independence. Until the death of Danièle Huillet in October 2006, they were united in an unwavering companionship through their resolved thinking, their incessant questioning, their rejection of fashion and their faith in the eyes and intelligence of the spectators. In 1967, Chronique d’Anna-Magdalena Bach showed them to be the main representatives of a new type of filmmaking that challenged traditional narrative and aesthetic patterns. Using a fixed camera or long tracking shots, they filmed texts adapted from literary works and operas, questioning contemporary society and engaging in a critique of capitalism and the class struggle, through characters or historical myths. Although their films have never been mainstream and have not always enjoyed universal acclaim, Straub and Huillet are considered major filmmakers of the second half of the twentieth century.

    Adapted from the tale Ah! Ernesto! (1971) by Marguerite Duras, that she herself brought to the screen in 1984 as Les Enfants (her last film), En rachâchant (1982) is the Straub’s first comedy and is based in particular on the opposition between educational discourse and Ernesto’s determination to oppose it. Indeed, the young schoolboy Ernesto decides not to go to school. His parents are mildly perturbed and take him to see the teacher who tries in vain to impose his scholarly authority on the boy.

    Despite an apparently light facade, Huillet and Straub construct a social satire through a critique of the education system. Ernesto’s rebellious ideas reveal another reality which is no less valid than that of the institution: President Mitterrand is certainly a “man” like any other, just as collecting butterflies is also a crime. “This is an entomologist’s movie”, according to Jean-Marie Straub. “Ernesto is filmed like Buñuel said insects should be shot. He’s an insect like any other, and insects are very important. For Rosa Luxemburg, the fate of an insect struggling between life and death in a corner somewhere, unbeknownst to all mankind, was as important as the fate and future of the revolution in which she believed”.