Michael HanekeAustrian Provocateur Cineaste By Josh Ralske
A cinematic manipulator increasingly embraced by the international arthouse crowd.
One is unlikely to respond to a Michael Haneke film with a shrug. You're more likely to be devastated or outraged, and either reaction would probably please the confrontational German-born filmmaker. While his earlier "Glaciation Trilogy" movies are disturbing, and implicate the viewer in their violence, 1997's Funny Games takes things a step further. Haneke frequently suggests that watching and committing violence go hand-in-hand, and, with Funny Games, he seems intent on punishing us for wanting to see what happens next. That pedantry, and the writer/director's hand at the strings—manipulating both characters and audience—are key elements of his early work. Haneke began incorporating more genre elements with Time of the Wolf, a post-apocalyptic nightmare that offers—in addition to typical grimly beautiful visuals—a few precious moments of humanity in the darkness. With Cache, Haneke took a further step toward engaging (as opposed to battering) his audience, and while that film brought him newfound respect, he perversely followed it with a shot-for-shot Hollywood remake of Funny Games. His next work, The White Ribbon, found him at his most restrained, and won the Palme D'Or. However, it's anyone's guess if Haneke will continue down that uncharacteristically more subtle path.
|Michael Haneke interview|