Berlin, the Romantic Era. Young poet Heinrich wishes to conquer the inevitability of death through love, yet is unable to convince his sceptical cousin Marie to join him in a suicide pact. It is whilst coming to terms with this refusal, ineffably distressed by his cousin’s insensitivity to the depth of his feelings, that Heinrich meets Henriette, the wife of a business acquaintance. Heinrich’s subsequent offer to the beguiling young woman at first holds scant appeal, that is until Henriette discovers she is suffering from a terminal illness. AMOUR FOU is a “romantic comedy” based loosely on the suicide of the poet Henrich von Kleist in 1811. Continue reading
The second part of Haneke’s “glaciation trilogy” begins with a buzz and a bang: the white noise of a television screen snow shower and then the bang of a pig being shot on the subsequent home video. Benny’s Video is the most accessible film of the trilogy, but still never departs from Haneke’s powerful concoction of brutal images and laconic montage. Benny is a neglected son of rich parents in Vienna. He spends his days and nights in his room lost in a cobweb of video equipment, cameras, monitors and editing consoles. He keeps his shades drawn at all times and experiences the outside world mediated through the camcorders he has set up outside his windows. He obsessively reviews the farmyard killing of a pig in forward and reverse, slow motion and freeze-frame. Intermittently, he flips through channels full of news on neo-nazi killings, toy commercials, war films and reports on the incipient war in Yugoslavia. One day he meets a girl at the video store and invites her back to his empty house. He shows her the stun-gun used to kill the pig and shoots her with it. The girl’s death is shot visually out of the camera’s frame although the audience is privy to excruciating minutes of screams and whimpers. In the end, Benny foils his parents’ perversely cynical attempt to cover up the murder. Continue reading
What do you do if a stranger comes to your home and politely asks to borrow some eggs?
So far, it doesn’t sound like a good film, but Funny Games isn’t a good film. There’s no way it can be middle-of-the-road, it’s either brilliant or awful, depending on your point of view. Consider that when this film was first shown at Cannes, a lot of the audience walked out, including some professional film critics. In short, this is a film you need to see to have any true appreciation of how it works. I could describe everything that happens in minute detail, and still not impart what actually happens. Continue reading
71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance (German: 71 Fragmente einer Chronologie des Zufalls) is a 1994 Austrian drama film directed by Michael Haneke. It has a fragmented storyline as the title suggests, and chronicles several unrelated stories in parallel. Separate narrative lines intersect in an incident at the last of the film: a mass killing at an Austrian bank. The film is set in Vienna, October to December 1993.
The film is divided into a number of variable-length “fragments” divided by black pauses, and apparently unrelated to each other. The film is characterised by quite a lot of fragments that take form of video newscasts unrelated to the main storylines. News footages of real events are shown through video monitors. Newscasts report on Bosnian War, Somali Civil War, South Lebanon conflict, Kurdish–Turkish conflict, and molestation allegations against Michael Jackson. Continue reading
Willi Hengstler’s adaptation of Jack Unterweger’s autobiography.
Johann “Jack” Unterweger (16 August 1950 – 29 June 1994) was an Austrian serial killer who murdered prostitutes in several countries. First convicted of a 1974 murder, he was released in 1990 as an example of rehabilitation. He became a journalist and minor celebrity, but within months started killing again. He committed suicide following a conviction for several murders. Austrian psychiatrist Dr. Reinhard Haller diagnosed him with narcissistic personality disorder in 1994.
Unterweger was born in 1950 to Theresia Unterweger, a Viennese barmaid and waitress, and an unknown American soldier whom she met in Trieste. Some sources describe his mother as a prostitute. His mother was jailed for fraud while pregnant but was released and travelled to Graz where he was born. In 1953, his mother was again arrested and he was sent to Carinthia in southern Austria to live with his grandfather, whom he described as a violent alcoholic.
Markus Schleinzer was Michael Hanekes casting director on several projects util he decided to turn to directing himself. This is his first feature film – A drama that focuses on five months in the life of a pedophile who keeps a 10-year-old boy locked in his basement.
Hans Castorp, fresh from university and about to become a civil engineer, comes to the Sanatorium Berghof in the Swiss Alps to visit his cousin Joachim, an army officer, who is recovering there from tuberculosis. Intending to remain at the Berghof for three weeks, Hans is gradually contaminated by the morbid atmosphere pervading the place. Wishing very much to be considered a patient like the others, he achieves his ends and stays in the sanatorium for …seven years. During this time, he has enough time to take part in the furious philosophical debates pitting against each other Settembrini, a secular humanist, and Naphta, a totalitarian Jesuit. And to fall in love with the beautiful but enigmatic Clawdia Chauchat. When he is finally discharged in 1914 – along with all the other patients – it is only to plunge into the horrors of World War I. Continue reading