History Lessons

Geschichtsunterricht

Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle HuilletItaly / West Germany85 minutes1972PGColourGerman

Thu
Mar 9
  • Press & Industry screenings and events are only for accredited passes.

This stunning adaptation of Brecht's unfinished novel The Business Affairs of Mr. Julius Caesar peels back the histories of both ancient and contemporary Rome to reveal the analogies between strongman leaders of the distant (Caesar) and not-so-distant past (Hitler).

Opening with one of the most astonishing long takes in cinema — a boggling shot from an Alfa Romeo sports car navigating the streets of Rome — History Lessons transforms Brecht's unfinished novel The Business Affairs of Mr. Julius Caesar into either "cold anti-cinema" (The New York Times) or "political cinema at its most advanced and provocative" (Tony Rayns, Time Out), depending on your patience and point of view. Taking its texts verbatim from Brecht, the film features a young man in modern dress interviewing four of Caesar's contemporaries, all garbed in antique costume — a banker, a jurist, a slave, and a poet — to peel back the histories of both ancient and contemporary Rome and to reveal the analogies between strongman leaders of the distant (Caesar) and not-so-distant past (Hitler). "History Lessons is perhaps the film most responsible for bringing Straub/Huillet into the discussions of anti-narrative and political modernism" (Barton Byg).

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