... the other Black experience

bank teller: "may i ask why you need the money so suddenly?"

most ppl would think to set money and possessions on fire, but this family did the destruction of the false self and the destruction of the material things that chain you to life in the funniest or funnest(?) way possible. the end was not so much shocking as a matter of fact--which seems to be a trademark of Haneke's--no explanation, no judgement, just a precisely constructed stab at "truthfulness" of emotion (mainly angst, anxiety) and a hint of that whole idea that w/o god anything is possible with film (edit: except in film, the director is god--see Cache).

Michael Haneke's The Seventh Continent, 1989 (IMDb)

The film opens with a car going through the process of an automated car wash with the credits on screen. When the car comes to the end of the line and rolls out we see an advertisement for the seventh continent: Australia.

If you notice, the waves are coming in from the cliff side, which is an unusual and probably impossible scene and Haneke says as much in an interview that was a part of the DVD extras. This image recurs throughout the film but is in motion which makes it all the more eerie in it's stillness and impossibility; a bit like death or unrealistic ideals and dreams we may hold regarding how life ought to be.

The film is set in Austria and goes over three years but details roughly a single day in each year plus the few days directly leading up to the demise of the family.

father to mother: "the only way we'll make it is if we go about it systematically."

The Q&A featured in the DVD was very interesting. My DVD player actually skipped the last quarter of the film so I only saw the first few moments of when they systematically dismantle their physical/material life. The scene from above is basically the last thing I saw before the screen went blank--which would have made a pretty interesting ending, because you got the sense already that they were going to kill themselves.

So throughout the end movement the father reads the letter they're leaving to their parents describing why they're doing what they did and the turmoil they found themselves in re: their decision on whether or not to take Evi, their daughter, with them--a particularly poignant part of the letter is read while we watch Evi color in a drawing...

in church "i look forward to my death" is sung in a Bach cantata and Evi responded, "me too"

and quickly these are my notes from the interview:

  • write w/o explanation. explanations diminish the force of the gesture.
  • a deeper emotional level is not necessarily accessible through images in and of themselves but may be achieved through pacing.
  • a lot of the film deals w/ the process, the routine, or the obligation of daily living -- the precision of detail is something akin to constructing, creating.
  • for Haneke being extremely precise is something very different from being local -- the director wanted to represent "the" family v. "this" family
  • and to this previous point Haneke recalls a comment made when he first debuted the film where a woman asked if Austria was really "that bad" and everyone laughed including the director, because it is a defense mechanism to find a way to distance themselves from what makes them uncomfortable
  • ambiguity is related to what is troubling and worrisome
  • to narrate or explain implies structure or even purpose (and a god)

the ending of the film explains a bit for me Haneke's stance on how vulnerable purpose, structure, and ascribing meaning to our lives can be...

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Comment by Rage_Proletaire on April 23, 2010 at 10:50am
... Subject matter seems brutal enough that I'd want to see this. Thanks for the heads-up.

Good to see a blog entry from you, too.


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