V010B: Moses und Aron (Straub)

Non-commercial, VHS (PAL) color, 3:04:30. (Gift of Henk Guittart) (includes V010A)

Moses und Aron. A film by Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet. In German with English subtitles. Surrounding narrations in English. Taped from British Television Channel 4. Directed by Michael Gielen. Produced by Danièle Huillet. Janus Films in association with Austrian TV/ARD (1:50:00).

Moses und Aron by Arnold Schoenberg
Time V010 Time V017 (VHS) Description
  1:08:09 Commercials.
  1:10:40 Spoken introduction to film gives dates of composition and brief synopsis of the work's ideas. Brief plot synopsis of opening scene.
1:16:50 1:11:35 Shot of German Bible. Voice reads text in German concerning Moses and Aaron.
1:17:25 1:11:40 Opening titles: "Moses and Aaron by Arnold Schoenberg. A film by Jean-Marie Straub, Danièle Huillet."
1:17:50 1:11:49 Act I, Scene 1. Title: "The Calling of Moses" ("Moses Berufung"). Music begins. Camera begins on Moses with his back to us. Then, as burning bush holds forth, camera pans around and shows nature of surrounding scene: mountains, clouds, bushes, etc. No other action.
1:27:30 1:21:11 Act I, Scene 2. Title: "Moses meets Aaron in the Wasteland" ("Moses begegnet Aron in der Wüste"). Introduction plays while title is shown. When dialogue begins, scene shows Moses and Aron standing, looking at each other, speaking and singing to each other. Later, camera focuses on each actor separately. No stage action.
1:34:15 1:28:14 Act I, Scene 3. Title: "Moses and Aaron bring God's message to the people" ("Moses und Aron verkünden dem Volk die Botschaft Gottes"). All the characters in this scene are standing in an outdoor amphitheater: the chorus, a woman, a man, a priest, a young boy. Camera, moving in a circle, focuses on one character or group at a time. No other action.
1:40:00 1:33:37 Act I, Scene 4. Camera circles around set to record entrance of Moses and Aron into the scene. Static staging continues. Camera does not always show the person(s) who are singing, but sometimes focuses on a different character or characters.
1:46:45 1:40:24 Aron takes Moses' staff away from him. He throws it on the ground; next, we see the snake it has changed into.
1:48:45 1:42:49 Now we see Moses and Aron again; Aron has staff in his hands again.
1:49:25 1:43:26 Aron gives staff back to Moses.
1:52:45 1:46:40 Moses' hand is struck with leprosy.
1:54:40 1:48:17 Moses' hand back to normal.
1:58:30 1:52:35 Miracle of water changed into blood: Aron pours water out of a jug, which turns to blood.
2:01:00 1:55:13 Aron pours from jug again; now it is water.
2:01:15 1:55:20 Scene changes to view of Nile. Chorus sings as camera shows us the panorama.
2:02:40 1:56:44 Panorama changes to view of desert, with Nile in the background. Chorus still singing. Camera pans around to show desert and cultivated fields as well.
-- 1:57:50 Title: "Moses and Aaron. A film by Jean-Marie Straub, Danièle Huillet of the opera by Arnold Schoenberg. End of Act One."
-- 1:58:05 Commercials.
-- 2:01:44 Titles: "Moses and Aaron. Opera in three parts by Arnold Schoenberg. Act Two. "
2:03:45 2:02:21 Titles: "Aaron and the Elders before the Mountain of Revelation."
2:03:46 2:02:26 [Zwischenspiel für Chor und Orchester] "Where is Moses? It's a long time since he was seen! We are abandoned! Where is his God? Where is the Eternal?" Text projected over black background as chorus sings in background.
2:05:45 2:04:12 Act II, Scene 1. [Aron und die siebzig Ältesten vor dem Berg der Offenbarung] Aaron stands in front of a stone doorframe. Chorus not shown.
2:09:20 2:07:47 Chorus shown, after we hear their approaching footsteps. Direct segue into Act II, Scene 2. Mixed chorus singing, but not shown. Camera switches back and forth between Aron and male chorus.
2:11:45 2:10:11 Finally we see mixed chorus. Camera switches between Aron, men's chorus, mixed chorus.
no text shown 2:12:21 Text projected over white background: "Rejoice, Israel! The gods, visible to our eyes, master our senses. Their visibility and presence give us security. They do not require that which our senses deny."
no text shown 2:12:33 Text projected over white background: "Gods, near to all our feelings, we can understand you. Virtue is rewarded, wrongs are punished. Show us the consequences of our deeds. Gods, let us see you power."
no text shown 2:13:01 Text projected over white background: "Rejoice, Israel! Bright is the present moment, dark the distant eternity. The pleasure of life shuns not its end. Pleasure borders life and death, danger inflames love of living."
no text shown 2:13:41 Text projected over white background: "You have fashioned your gods with your inmost feelings. Now the glory of your gods is fixed in gold. Renounce your wealth. Give your gold, make your gods rich. Rejoice, Israel!"
2:16:15 2:14:44 [Act II, Scene 3. Das Goldene Kalb und der Altar] Shot of Aron standing next to golden calf idol in same outdoor setting. Camera shows camels, goats, etc. standing around; then, we see several shepherds driving a flock of sheep, then a herd of oxen, then a herd of cows.
2:18:30 2:16:59 Five dancers perform a ballet with swords in their hands.
2:19:15 2:17:40 We see two men disemboweling and skinning a dead cow; then camera pans to animal parts sitting out – a head, a leg of a cow.
2:19:55 2:18:20 View switches back to five dancers, dancing in front of the golden calf, this time without knives. Camera moves closer to golden calf, dancers disappear from frame.
2:21:45 2:20:12 View switches to woman lying on a litter; she prays to the idol for healing. She is carried offstage; camera focuses on rock standing near altar.
2:23:00 2:21:28 Now we see the golden calf and its altar from stage right. Beggars come up to the altar, remove their shirts, and lay them at the foot of the calf. Women come to the altar and leave offerings of bread and fruit. Finally, old men come up to altar and offer the god their last moments of life.
2:24:50 2:23:01 Camera pans over to group of elders; they say that the old men have killed themselves at the altar (we don't see their suicide, however).
2:24:55 2:23:18 View switches to mountainside. Men on horseback trot into the frame, then out of it.
2:26:15 2:24:40 Camera now focuses on a bass Ephraimite singing. Camera moves back so we can see the "tribal leaders" kneeling before the calf. They stand up and move back.
2:27:30 2:25:55 The young man, a character from earlier in the opera, walks into frame, carrying a stick. He begs Aron and the elders to destroy the idol. The Ephraimite comes up from behind and pushes him over. Murder of the youth, described in score, is not shown onstage.
2:28:45 2:27:09 View switches to two men, sitting in a cave. Then we see two women, handling a piece of fabric. Then we see a man giving a woman a necklace; she kisses him. Then, we see two men drinking wine; one of the men pours his wine on the other man's head. Then a long shot of an unknown hand pouring several vessels of wine. Then camera focuses on a burning branch in the cave wall while the seventy elders sing their piece.
2:32:55 2:31:18 View switches back to golden calf and its altar, now at night. Four clothed male priests face the camera, four nude women face the men with their backs to us, flanked by two pairs of clothed women. The naked virgins sing their praise of the calf. At the end of their song the priests come forward and kiss the virgins. Then we see the priests draw knives to murder the women; they are murdered off-camera. Then, in silence, a pair of hands empties a bowl of blood on the altar.
2:36:20 2:34:43 View changes to rocky mountainside. Various objects – weapons, carts, rocks – are thrown anonymously from the top of the cliff. We watch a man stab himself to death, then see someone run by who is one fire, then see several men apparently hurl themselves to their deaths from the top of the cliff.
2:37:45 2:36:08 View of night sky. No action.
2:39:00 2:37:33 We see a woman, clothed, standing on top of a hill against the night sky. A naked man runs up to her, pulls off her clothes, picks her up, and runs downhill with her out of the frame. Next we see him, still holding the woman, kneeling before the calf.
2:39:40 2:38:05 Camera pans over to golden calf; fire is now burning in pit before it. No people in picture.
2:41:15 2:39:40 [Act II, Scene 4] We see a man holding a staff, standing on top of a hill, with two mountains in the background. It is now daylight. He yells out that Moses is returning from the mountain. Camera focuses anew on golden calf; picture whites out as Moses "destroys" the idol.
2:42:10 2:40:42 Black text on white background: "Once again our god cannot be seen. All pleasure, hope and joy is gone."
2:42:25 2:40:50 [Act II, Scene V] We see Moses, holding two stone tablets, standing behind Aron. Both are standing sideways. Eventually camera focuses on Aron only. Camera focuses on Moses, holding the stone tablets. Then camera focuses on Aron again. At the very end of his speech, as Aron taunts Moses, he actually turns as if to address him face-to-face.
2:48:45 2:46:58 Camera focuses on Moses, full-face, as he destroys the tablets.
2:50:25 2:48:48 View returns to mountainside in daylight, with clouds in sky. Camera pans around countryside as chorus sings.
2:51:15 2:49:44 We see Moses on his knees. He collapses to the ground in despair as he pronounces his closing words: "O Wort, du Wort, das mir fehlt!"
2:53:00 2:51:26 Closing titles: "Moses and Aaron. A film by Jean-Marie Straub, Danielle Huillet of the opera by Arnold Schoenberg. End of Act II."
-- 2:51:43 Commercials.
-- 2:52:07 Title: "Moses and Aaron. Opera in three parts by Arnold Schoenberg." English voice-over describes how Schoenberg never finished the opera, but did compose a brief scene in 1951 that could be used as Act III. This text should be spoken: "the argument is then complete, but the expression of it is not."
2:53:01 2:52:48 Title: "Act Three".
2:53:05 2:52:55 We see a scene set before a lake. Moses on left, holding his staff; Aron lying on the ground in the mud, bound hand and foot; two soldiers on the left holding spears.  Camera focuses on Moses through the end of his final speech. Entire scene is spoken.
2:57:40 2:57:33 Closing Title: "Moses and Aaron by Arnold Schoenberg." Credits.
2:58:30*     2:58:13     End of Tape.


Moses: Günther Reich
Aron: Louis Devos
Young Girl: Eva Csapó
Young Man: Roger Lucas
Another Man: Richard Salter
Priest: Werner Mann
Ephraimite: Ladislav Illavsky
Sick Woman: Friedl Obrowsky
Chorus and Orchestra of Österreichischer Rundfunk
Conductor: Michael Gielen
Producer: Danièle Huillet
Director: Jean-Marie Straub

*V010: Moses und Aron is followed by the Westdeutsche Fernsehen news broadcast.  Tape ends at 3:04:30.