Toute révolution est un coup de dés (Every Revolution Is a Throw of the Dice). 1977. France. Written and directed by Jean-Marie Straub, Danièle Huillet. Based on “A Throw of the Dice Will Never Abolish Chance,” by Stéphane Mallarmé. With Huillet, Helmut Färber, Michel Delahaye, Georges Goldfayn, Manfred Blank, Marilù Parolini, Aksar Khaled, Andrea Spingler, Dominique Villain. In French; English subtitles. 10 min.
Straub and Huillet invited friends to recite Stéphane Mallarmé’s 1897 poem “A Throw of the Dice Will Never Abolish Chance,” with its radically modern use of free verse, in a park alongside the wall in Père Lachaise cemetery where the last 147 men and women of the Paris Commune were lined up and shot dead in 1871. It is not hard to understand why these ambitious filmmakers were drawn to Mallarme’s late-19th-century poem, which casts readers adrift in a sea of elusive meanings, a playfully and hermetically cubist constellation of words that can assume myriad visual, aural, and symbolic forms.
Fortini/Cani. 1976. Italy. Written and directed by Jean-Marie Straub, Danièle Huillet. Based on The Dogs of Sinai, by Franco Fortini. With Franco Lattes. In Italian; English subtitles. 83 min.
Franco Fortini, a Communist critic and writer of the Italian New Left, reads excerpts of his book The Dogs of Sinai, which condemns capitalism and the state of Israel in the aftermath of the Six Day War in 1967, while also reflecting on his own Jewish heritage. Cinematographer Renato Berta’s panoptic camera surveys the Italian landscape where partisans resisted German soldiers. Fortini/Cani is an elegiac and damning meditation on abuses of power and historical amnesia.