Everyone has something to hide. Michael Haneke knows this well. And he also knows that certain secrets and faults from the past can also have a strong, very strong impact on the present. In Hidden, therefore, the protagonist’s past returns in the most devious way.
Violence, coldness, vacuity. These could be the three key words to characterise Michael Haneke’s Glaciation Trilogy. The characters are executioners and victims at the same time. Executioners against other human beings (but also against themselves), victims of a world in which there the human being as such is no longer considered.
In Benny’s Video, reality is what we see, but also what we can manipulate at will. Michael Haneke knows very well where to direct our gaze, simply letting the images speak for themselves and – through monitors that almost act as a ‘filter’ – showing us a distorted world, a sick world.
It is based on a real-life news story 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance. In the film – which is divided into five chapters, each concerning a particular day – everything takes place from October 12 to December 23, 1993. Everything leads up to a single event in which all the characters will be involved in one way or another. But how important is the human being in this feature film by Michael Haneke?
In Michael Haneke’s Amour (Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival 2012, as well as Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film in 2013), there is no place for deep reflections on what human beings have become today. There is no place for the inner torments of talented pianists, adrift families or white-gloved young delinquents breaking into rich homes. Now is the time to focus on one of the most complex feelings, in its purest form.
In The Seventh Continent, Michael Haneke’s first feature film, what we observe is the progressive and sudden disintegration of the contemporary bourgeois family, observed and approached in an almost Schnitzlerian style, complete with omnipresent violence that is never really represented before our eyes. A constant theme, this, in Haneke’s rich filmography.
Fritz Lang/Michael Haneke. Two names that – except for their country of origin (Austria) – seem to have little in common. Only in appearance, however. While the former immediately experimented with new paths and new forms of film language, it is also true that the latter benefited so much from these experiments that he made them his own, thus creating a totally personal and recognisable style.
What we see in Happy end is a crescendo of emotions in full Hanekian mode. There are no heroes, no villains, everyone is simultaneously victim and executioner. Including young people.