Close Up

16 - 31 January 2016: Close-Up on Michael Haneke


Michael Haneke has established himself as one of cinema's most original, daring and controversial filmmakers. This season brings together seven of his most acclaimed work, most of which on 35mm, including the original version of Funny Games.

"Haneke’s films all deal in one way or another with modern society’s descent into lovelessness, alienation, and lethal coldness that get passed on from one generation to the next and amplified in the process. He conveys these themes through highly restrained cinematic forms and an austerely mesmerizing spectatorial address. Having worked predominantly in France since the turn of the millennium, Haneke has recently returned to the multi-strain narratives of his early TV work to craft stories that analyze first world social anatomies in relation to the legacy of colonialism and issues of citizenship and migration. At the same time, Haneke continues his quest for new aesthetic strategies to use media violence as a tool to critique media violence. – Roy Grundmann

"[Haneke] denies us the simple solutions of most films, in which everything is settled by the violent victory of one side. His films are like parables, teaching that bad things sometimes happen simply because they... happen. The universe laughs at man's laws and does what it will." – Roger Ebert

The Seventh Continent
Michael Haneke
1989 | 104 min | Colour | Digital

Addressing themes that would inform much of his later work – the breakdown of society, violence and the media – Haneke's first theatrical feature is a disturbing portrait of familial disintegration which he describes as a depiction of his native Austria's "progressive emotional glaciation". Set over a three-year period, it documents how the mundane day-to-day routines of a middle class family alienate them from the world and each other until, suddenly and shockingly, their lives self-destruct. The Seventh Continent presents a disturbing portrait of middle class life in a manner reminiscent of early Fassbinder. read more

Benny’s Video
Michael Haneke
1992 | 115 min | Colour | 35mm  

The centrepiece in Haneke’s acclaimed trilogy on actual incidents of unexplained violence, the film tells the chilling story of a teenage boy who videotapes every aspect of his life. As he becomes desensitized to violent televisual imagery, his impulses become fatal in this refreshingly unsensational portrait of homicidal urges. Arno Frisch plays the 14 year-old Benny, who brings a girl home to his parents' empty apartment where he commits a shocking act of casual violence. As with his later Funny Games, Haneke poses provocative and challenging questions about voyeurism and violence. read more

71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance
Michael Haneke
1994 | 95 min | Colour | Digital

Haneke's articulate critique of the isolating effects of western society, the media and television in particular, is composed of an intricate series of unrelated scenes, culminating in an apparently motiveless act of violence. Perfectly paced and executed, Haneke's skilful weaving of these tableaux into a coherent and compelling whole is mesmerising and masterfully composed. read more

Funny Games
Michael Haneke
1997 | 104 min | Colour | 35mm

Arriving at their remote lakeside holiday home, a middle class family is alarmed by the unexpected arrival of two young men who soon begin to subject them to a twisted and horrifying ordeal of terror. With characteristic mastery, Haneke turns the conventions of the thriller genre upside down and directly challenges the expectations of his audience, forcing viewers to question the complacency with which they receive images of violence in contemporary cinema. One of Haneke’s most controversial films and one of the most provocative films ever made. read more

The Piano Teacher
Michael Haneke
2001 | 129 min | Colour | 35mm  

Isabelle Huppert gives a performance of astounding intensity as Erika Kohut, a repressed woman in her late thirties who teaches piano at the Vienna Conservatory and lives with her tyrannical mother, with whom she has a volatile love-hate relationship. But when one of Erika's students, the handsome and assured Walter Klemmer, attempts to seduce her, the barriers that she has carefully erected around her claustrophobic world are shattered, unleashing a previously inhibited extreme and uncontrollable desire. read more

Michael Haneke
2005 | 118 min | Colour | 35mm

This compelling psychological thriller stars Daniel Auteuil as Georges, a television presenter who begins to receive mysterious and alarming packages containing covertly filmed videos of himself and his family. To the mounting consternation of Georges and his wife (Juliette Binoche) the footage on the tapes – which arrive wrapped in drawings of disturbingly violent images – becomes increasingly personal, and sinister anonymous phone calls are made. In Hidden, Haneke probes the pride, class-consciousness, and racial enmity of a man whose happy, comfortable, middle class family life is turned upside down by a series of intrusive and upsetting events that undermine his life. read more

The White Ribbon
Michael Haneke
2009 | 144 min | B/W | 35mm

Shot in austerely beautiful black-and-white and featuring a sprawling cast of characters reminiscent of a 19th century novel, The White Ribbon marks Haneke’s most ambitious – and unsettling – investigation yet into society’s hidden violence and the evils transmitted from parents to children. read more