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The Death of Empedocles, or When the Green of the Earth Will Glisten for You Anew

(Der Tod des Empedokles; oder: wenn dann der Erde Grün von neuem euch erglänzt)

featuring

Andreas von Rauch, Vladimir Baratta, Martina Baratta, Ute Cremer,

Straub-Huillet staged their adaptation of German lyric poet Hölderlin’s drama along the mountainside of Sicily’s Mt. Etna, a spectacular natural backdrop as fascinating (and as foregrounded) as the text itself. Prophesizing a utopian vision of a new earth, the Greek philosopher Empedocles finds himself both a hero of the people and an enemy of the state. Here words and language battle against the elements themselves, “three elements in the film are in virtually constant motion: Hölderlin's text, the actors' gestures, and nature,” writes Jonathan Rosenbaum. “And the juxtaposition of these movements with static camera setups is essential to the film's music and rhythm.”

Jason Sanders