Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle HuilletFrance / Egypt100 minutes1980ColourEnglish Arabic
Shot in the tense period after the Camp David Accords and just before the assassination of Anwar Sadat, this diptych considers the histories of the French and Egyptian revolutions and questions what remains of the revolutionary spirit in the modern era.
"One of [Straub-Huillet's] most beautiful works" (Dennis Grunes). A dipytch about two revolutions, in France and Egypt respectively, Too Early/Too Late was shot in the tense period after the Camp David Accords and just before the assassination of Anwar Sadat. With comparatively spare language and intentionally ambiguous imagery, Too Early/Too Late travels the rural roads of both France and Egypt before incorporating archival footage to illustrate the latter's history of British colonial rule, Nasser's revolt, and the often repressive aftermath. Opening with a dizzying, long-held shot in traffic circling (and circling, and circling) the Place de la Bastille, the film questions what remains of the French Revolution, the Paris Commune, the 1968 uprisings — all of which came, as the title suggests, either too early or too late. In a brilliant sequence that captures the emptying of a Cairo factory, the film aesthetically fuses the two cultures, French and Egyptian, by invoking the famous Lumière film of the same activity.