Noah Tagarelli’s review published on Letterboxd:
"You loved only the empire, I loved only you."
The tragedy of Othon really came to me on this viewing. Politic and love cannot coexist. Love is manipulated for and by all parties involved to reach their political goals. Compassion is non-existent.
An important key to the film which we must acknowledge is the full english title, Eyes don’t want to stay shut all the time, or Perhaps one day Rome will let herself choose at her turn, which is lifted from dialogue between Othon and Camille. The entire line is "Eyes don't want to stay shut all the time; but empire has charms for them all the time." This line is said in the context of Othon telling Camille that she should not marry him, as someone else has been chosen for the throne, Camille responds with "Rome will let herself choose at her turn. To make an emperor then, whatever excites her, race or merit, our union will have the votes of every side." The revolutionary scenario in which she puts forth, in which the masses chose their own fate, future and leader occurs at the end of the play, when the masses overthrow Galba and replace him with Othon. Maybe one day the proletariat's eyes shall no longer wish to be shut and we will let her chose at her turn.
The ruins of Palatine Hill leave the grandeur of these once great structures to our imagination. Cars zoom past in the background, in stark contradiction to the Romans. This is a complete acknowledgement of the passage of time, as Straub-Huillet said that "fiction is important for us". Seeing the Roman aristocracy dressed in fine, wine-red togas discussing the intricacies and politics of their state whilst surrounded by their long-destroyed ruins is a very powerful image.
Also, this has possibly the most jaw-dropping camera movement of any film.
“The Straubs’ craft, is finally to make the texts themselves disappear, whereupon we have a movie – which is why the words have so much more substance.” - Tag Gallagher