Moses and Aaron

Moses and Aaron

Straub-Huillet / 1974 / 107 minutes / Spine #09

Moses and Aaron finds Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, through their exemplary craft, transforming a familiar Biblical tale into a borderline-surreal cinematic opera of seemingly endless possibility. In expressive, melodic tones, the fraternal pair debate God’s true message and intent for His creations, a conflict that leads their followers — in extravagantly choreographed song and dance — towards chaos and sin. Set almost entirely within a Roman amphitheater whose history lends every precise line-reading and gesture, every startling camera move and cut, a totalizing force, Straub-Huillet’s adaptation of Schoenberg’s unfinished opera opens us to the stimulating worldview of a filmmaking duo whose masterful efforts are finally coming to light. A new 2K restoration.



• Introduction to Arnold Schoenberg’s “Accompaninment to a Cinematographic Scene” (1972, 15 minutes), a fierce condemnation of anti-Semitism and the barbaric war machine of capitalism, inspired by a letter written in 1923 by composer Arnold Schoenberg to painter Wassily Kandinsky.

• Machorka-Muff (1962, 18 minutes), a powerful, almost surreal distillation of a story by Heinrich Böll, Straub-Huillet’s debut work concerns a former Nazi colonel who takes advantage of his political and sexual status in post-war Germany.

• Not Reconciled (1964, 55 minutes), Straub-Huillet’s heralded feature debut charts the origins and legacy of Nazism, as well as the moral demands of obedience and sacrifice within the German bourgeois family, in this vigorous adaptation of Heinrich Böll’s novel.

Booklet with essay by Ted Fendt, editor of “Jean-Marie Straub & Danièle Huillet” (Austrian Film Museum/FilmmuseumSynemaPublikationen, 2016)



→ Jean-Marie Straub’s 10/10 list

→ Ted Fendt’s essay on Moses and Aaron


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  • "A cinema of exhilaration. As in some Ford films, a tracking shot can make you cry. They are the only films I know in which you can feel the force of gravity."

    — Thom Andersen, director of Los Angeles Plays Itself
  • "An immensely moving, even thrilling work. One of the monuments of 20th-century cinematic modernism."

    — Dave Kehr, The New York Times
  • "I saw it at Cannes at the time. It was so beautiful, captivating, intelligent — a beauty that doesn’t want to be beautiful, and that’s how it’s achieved."

    — Chantal Akerman, director of Jeanne Dielman
  • "The film that turned me into a Straubian was Moses and Aaron, after which the colors of everything I saw for the next few hours felt super-intensified."

    — Ted Fendt, Brooklyn Magazine
  • "Grasshopper does invaluable art-film service here not just by presenting a super-scrupulous rendering of Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub’s 1975 non-spectacle cinema rendering of Schoenberg’s great opera, but by also including three other films by the duo, all crucial."

    — Glenn Kenny, Some Came Running
  • “Gorgeous. Embodied in music of extraordinary incisiveness and vividness.”

    — Allen Shawn, Film Comment
  • “Exemplary cinematic artists. The stark images are as passionate and engaging, profound and beautiful as the complex music to which they insightfully respond."

    — Richard Brody, The New Yorker
  • "Uninitiated viewers [...] have the opportunity to discover an entirely new dimension of cinema."

    — Nick Pinkerton, Frieze
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