Friday, March 7, 2008

Master of Disturbance: Michael Haneke

"My films are intended as polemical statements against the American 'barrel down' cinema and its dis-empowerment of the spectator. They are an appeal for a cinema of insistent questions instead of false (because too quick) answers, for clarifying distance in place of violating closeness, for provocation and dialogue instead of consumption and consensus."

Michael Haneke came to our attention last year, when one of our Nutopia members, Andreas Laszlo Konrath, did a photo shoot with a young actor named Brady Corbet. Corbet had just finished filming the remake of Funny Games, and told Andreas about the director and his films.

Since learning about Haneke, we at the Forum have tried to watch his extensive filmography:

- The Seventh Continent (1989)
- Benny's Video (1992)
- 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance (1994)
- Funny Games (1997)
- Code Unknown (2000)
- The Piano Teacher (2002)
- Time of the Wolf (2003)
- Cache (2005)
- Funny Games (2008)

Haneke’s vision, although disturbing in most of his films, also makes you question your own definition of what and what isn’t ‘disturbing’. Constantly pushing your own perception of right and wrong, it is rare to find a murder scene in film (where you don’t even witness the physical act of violence), and to be totally emotionally wrecked by it. This plays with our emotions rather than being desensitized by the repetitive mowing down of humans in gory detail that we see in most violent films these days.

It is has almost become common place to witness death in films and not to even blink an eye, where as Haneke makes his scenes with such intensity that you genuinely worry about your own safety in this world. Of course, Haneke is not glorifying murder at all, but showing it in such a way that you become angered by the act. Surely being tested by such film making is what we need every now and then, rather than just sitting back and having an easy ride through the journey of a film.

We advise you see the Austro-German version of Funny Games (1997), and then prepare yourself for the scene for scene remake (by Haneke himself) in English, set in America, with an new all star cast including Tim Roth, Naomi Watts, Michael Pitt & Brady Corbet.

An interesting idea of remaking your own film with no changes in script or shots what so ever, and it will be up to the audience to decide how this new version lives up to the highly acclaimed original.



News in the movie pipeline (or sewer!) that Ron Howard is remaking Haneke’s Cache … This also leads us to the question of why Hollywood feels the need to remake every decent European film… But with Funny Games at least the result entirely lies on Haneke’s head, let’s hope he and his new version can live up to the hype.

The remake of Funny Games will be released on March 14th, 2008.

Keep challenging us Haneke!

Nutopia Forum.


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