Straub-Huillet filmed the third version of The Death of Empedocles, the unfinished late-18th-century play by the German lyric poet Frederich Hölderlin, in the dazzling sunlight and mottled shadow of the Sicilian landscape. It was there that the Greek pre-Socratic philosopher Empedocles legendarily cast himself into the volcanic fires of Mount Etna to prove his immortality. Empedocles debates Pausanias, his loyal disciple (erômenos), about the divine powers of love and strife that govern all matter, whether the strange and mystical elements of air, fire, water and earth, or the mercurial and tragic behavior of gods and humans, mad in their compulsion to forsake nature and each other. Black Sin is a meticulous rereading and reworking of a play whose first version Straub-Huillet had adapted in The Death of Empedocles (1986).
35mm, color, in German with English subtitles, 42 min. DIR/SCR: Jean-Marie Straub, Danièle Huillet. Based on the third version of The Death of Empedocles, by Friedrich Hölderlin. CAST: Andreas von Rauch, Vladimir Theye, Howard Vernon.