Der Tod des Empedokles; oder: wenn dann der Erde Grün von neuem euch erglänzt (The Death of Empedocles, or When the Green of the Earth Will Glisten for You Anew). 1986. West Germany/France. Written and directed by Jean-Marie Straub, Danièle Huillet. Based on the first version of The Death of Empedocles, by Friedrich Hölderlin. With Andreas von Rauch, Vladimir Baratta, Martina Baratta, Ute Cremer, Howard Vernon. 35mm. In German; English subtitles. . 132 min.
The pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Empedocles possessed magical healing powers through his communion with the gods and nature. He inspired awe and trust in the people by prophesizing a vision of a new Earth, a communist utopia, before committing a noble suicide. However, at the start of Straub-Huillet’s mesmerizing film—an adaptation of the first version of Hölderlin’s tragic poem, written during the outbreak of the French Revolution—Empedocles is at the point of death. An enemy of the priestly state, he is cast into darkness, suffering the torments of loneliness and doubt, but finds renewed strength, even immortality, through the will of the people.