One of the most beautiful and enigmatic of all films is Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet’s The Bridegroom, The Comedienne and The Pimp (1968), a 23 minute short film comprised of only eleven shots. As I wrote of this film on IMDb, “three sequences are linked together in this short film by Straub [and Huillet]; the first sequence is a long tracking shot from a car of prostitutes plying their trade on the night-time streets of Germany; the second is a staged play [Ferdinand Bruckner's Krankheit der Jugend], cut down to 10 minutes by Straub [and Huillet], photographed in a single take; the final sequence covers the marriage of James [James Powell] and Lilith, and Lilith’s subsequent execution of her pimp, played by Rainer Werner Fassbinder.”
This brief description does little justice to the mysterious resonance of the film, composed as it is of such disparate elements; the still above is taken from the final sequence of the film, directly after Lilith (Lilith Ungerer) has shot Fassbinder’s pimp, and dispassionately recites some poems of John of the Cross, as the camera tracks past her to come to rest on a shot of a tree in full summer. The best discussion of The Bridegroom, The Comedienne and The Pimp remains Richard Roud’s careful consideration of the film in his 1972 book Straub, illustrated with numerous frame blow-ups; sadly, the book is out of print. The film, too, seems to be unavailable in 35mm, 16mm, or digital video, and thus, for the moment, both are phantom texts.