[The directors'] rarefied aesthetic coheres perfectly with the opera to come off as a kind of 12-tone filmmaking which, like Schoenberg’s music, reclaims a classical ideal for a progressive cause that owes nothing to nostalgia. Oblique angles, long takes, and static tableaux allow Straub and Huillet to go straight to the drama inherent in the story and the composition. The stark images are as passionate and engaging, profound and beautiful as the complex music to which they insightfully respond.
All the more powerful for their brevity and unexpectedness, these small additions draw attention to the central conflict with which Schoenberg was grappling . . . Unresolved tensions abound in their work, gradually extending into a great array of diverse and contrasting accents, colors, shadow and light, and costumes. This is what is radical in Straub and Huillet’s cinema and why their films are so rejuvenating, why they make us see anew.
This conflict between having ideas and communicating them could be the crux of Straub-Huillet's entire body of work, which uses literary, political, and philosophical texts as its bedrock, makes Moses and Aaron one of the most crucial films in understanding the filmmakers' oblique oeuvre.