Besides working on film projects, Michael Haneke also works as a professor for directing at the Vienna Film Academy. He started his career as a playwright for the Südwestfunk (The national broadcasting corporation of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate and the southern Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany) in 1967. He made his debut as a television director in 1974, and then started making feature films in 1989 The Seventh Continent when he was 46 after working in Television.
“Slappy” Michael Haneke’s nickname, was born 23 March 1942 in Munich, Germany. He is the son of the German actor and director Fritz Haneke and the Austrian actress Beatrix von Degenschild. He was raised in the city of Wiener Neustadt, Austria and later studied psychology, philosophy and theatrical sciences at the University of Vienna, Austria.
Haneke won Palme d’Or twice (Das weiße Band & Amour), so he joined 7 other filmmakers to have won the prestigious award twice: Francis Ford Coppola, Shōhei Imamura, The Dardenne Brothers, Alf Sjöberg, Bille August and Emir Kusturica. As a director and scriptwriter, best known for his bleak and disturbing style. His films often document problems and failures in modern society. Haneke has received quite a lot of prestigious accolades and many award nominations for his absolute greatness work in the films Das weiße Band (The White Ribbon), Caché, La Pianiste (The Piano Teacher), and Amour. So now I present you, the five best films Haneke’s work.
5. Code Inconnu: Récit Incomplet De Divers Voyages (2000)
The film features several different storylines, all of which intersect periodically throughout the film. A fragmented tale of racism, intolerance, and hatred in modern-day Paris, where the fates of several characters intersect and connect. In a series of free standing vignettes Haneke has tailored a moral conundrum without an answer. Much like in life itself. But rather than searching for meaning or answers Haneke is daring us to confront the questions themselves.
The Plot: The focus of the story is divide between three sets of people: Anne Laurent (Juliette Binoche) is an actress working in Paris, a Romanian woman, Maria (Luminita Gheorghiu), who struggles to raise money for her family, and Amadou (Ona Lu Yenke) a teacher for the disable person.
Haneke provides sympathetic insight into the inner lives of African immigrants, with an ear to how happenings look different to Western rationalists than to those used to revelations of divine and interpretive meanings, particularly in dreams, or sense of time. But while he is very sympathetic to the pushes and pulls of immigration that change people’s place in society from matriarch to “the gypsy” as the universal “other” who everyone higher up in society puts down, the family scenes in the Romanian village are more stereotyped, with ethnic wedding dancing.
Presumably, this film isn’t as accessible as Haneke’s other works by its nonexistent linear narration and the seriousness of its theses but I think that it’s a winner in Haneke’s work. The central performance from Binoche is equally ambiguous, again this adds to the strength of the piece, but also the difficulty inherent in it. Of course, to watch a movie that breaks narrative conventions and expresses deeply pessimistic things is not for all tastes and that’s partly why there’ll never be general agreement about the famous Austrian film-maker, with it’s thorny subjects hidden in the obscurity of cinema.
With this film Haneke Nominated for Palme d’Or, instead he won Prize of the Ecumenical Jury in the 53rd Cannes Film Festival.
4. Funny Games (1997)
An Austrian psychological thriller film directed and written by Michael Haneke. The film involves two psychotic young men who hold a family hostage in their vacation cabin and force them to play sadistic “games” with one another for their own amusement. This film offers a very different experience in every scenes. The character Paul breaks the fourth wall throughout the film and addresses the camera in various ways. He turns, winks, and smirks at the camera. And also he ask the viewers to contribute in particular scene.
The Plot: The film begins with a wealthy German family – Georg (Ulrich Mühe), his wife Anna (Susanne Lothar), his son Schorschi (Stefan Clapczynski), and their dog Rolfi – arriving at their Austrian lake house. They spot their next-door neighbor Fred (Christoph Bantzer) accompanied by two young Viennese men. The two men Peter (Frank Giering) and Paul (Arno Frisch) begin imposing themselves on the Georg family’s courtesy, and in the process destroy their phone and ruin all their eggs. Eventually a frustrated Anna demands that the men leave, asking Georg to eject them from the premises. Paul kills Rolfi, Peter breaks Georg’s leg with the latter’s golf club, and the two men take the family hostage, forcing it to participate in a number of sadistic games in order to stay alive.
Haneke stir the film without cool action or cool lines or even a cool song playing in the background. Instead Haneke put a large amount of reality on how violence could be, he described violence as a horrible fact of life, not a glamourous thing for youths to copy. The script is simply incredible. The overtone of terror slowly creeps up on the viewer, and on Anna and Georg, with more than a dose of psychological manipulation. Almost by pretending they are doing nothing wrong, with more than a hint of cordiality along the way, the two perpetrators manage to inflict a disturbing level of fear upon the family, and yet it is the most subtle form of assault.
Funny games is a confusing, shocking, curious, strong and slow but very gripping film. Naturally repulsive, cruel, frightful but surprisingly good. It’s totally different with any other films, you can’t really compare it to anything you’ve seen before because it’s absolutely unique in its insanity.
With this film Haneke nominated for Palme d’Or in the 50th Cannes film Festival.
3. La Pianiste (2001)
This film written and directed by Michael Haneke. The film is based on the novel The Piano Teacher by Austrian Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek first published in 1983 who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2004. The book features many unusual stylistic elements, like the near-constant capitalization of words (such as “her”) that refer back to the protagonist. Also, the chronology of the events in the book are interwoven with images of the past and the internal thoughts of characters.
The Plot: Erika Kohut (Isabelle Huppert) is a piano professor at a Vienna music conservatory. Although already in her forties, she still lives in an apartment with her domineering mother (Annie Girardot), and her father is a long-standing resident in a lunatic asylum. Erika is a woman whose sexual repression verges into full-fledged desperation and is manifested in a long list of paraphilias, including voyeurism and sadomasochistic.
When Erika meets Walter Klemmer (Benoît Magimel), a mutual obsession develops. Walter, a charming 17-year-old engineering student, he eventually becomes Erika’s student and develops a desire for his instructor. Erika sees love as a means of rebellion or escape from her mother and thus seeks complete control in the relationship, always telling Walter carefully what he must do to her, although she is a sexual masochist. Walter is increasingly insistent in his desire to start a relationship with Erika, but when she finally acquiesces, he is unwilling to indulge her violent fantasies, which repulse him.
This film is definitely not for the faint-of-heart or for those seeking passive entertainment, this film is a masterpiece of portraiture of a highly talented and disturbed artist. A perfect illustration of the idea that genius is considered but a short step from insanity. In the much-discussed toilet scene, Haneke’s camera brings you so close to the action that all you can do is squirm. Although the camera never goes below the waist, the game being played of sexual domination and submission is clearly visible in the facial expressions of the characters. Ultimately, there is no release for the tension created by a character who seems torn between madness and reason, who acts on strange impulses, seems completely estranged from humanity, but remains so deeply human that we can recognize a part of ourselves on the big screen.
The temptation is to say these people are not me. They are so sick. Yes, that’s true, they are not you, but isn’t there is a part of Erika that is becoming more and more recognizable every day? We are increasingly surrounded by people who find it difficult to express emotion, who seek satisfaction but are unable to provide it, who are desensitized to violence and any kind of human empathy, who commit murder “to see what it feels like”.
This movie won’t be everyone’s choice for an evening with the kids. It’s a serious, disturbing film for adults that looks grimly at repressed feelings and emotional self destruction. This is a highly disturbing and extremely thought-provoking movie with absolutely no clear answers. This film will shows you how brilliant Michael Haneke is, and also we shouldn’t forget Isabelle Huppert and Benoît Magimel for a magnificent and tense performance.
The film won Grand Prize of the Jury (Grand Prix) and Isabelle Huppert won best actress (Prix d’interprétation féminine) and also Benoît Magimel for best actor (Prix d’interprétation masculine) in the 54th Cannes Film Festival. The film also nominated in the 55th BAFTA Awards for best foreign language film.
2. Caché (2005)
Distributed as hidden in UK and Ireland. Michael Haneke written and directed this film. A story about a married couple who’s terrorized by a series of surveillance videotapes left on their front porch. The film premiered at the 58th Cannes Film Festival compete with “Sin City” by Frank Miller & Robert Rodriguez and 19 other films. Haneke took Paris and Vienna for filming this film. It is the first film in which Haneke used high-definition video cameras. And it has no film score.
The Plot: The unobtrusive life of a Paris family is disturbed when they receive a series of surveillance tapes of their own residence from an anonymous source. Georges Laurent (Daniel Auteuil) is the successful host of a French literary TV programme, living with his wife Anne (Juliette Binoche) a book publisher, and their school-age son Pierrot (Lester Makedonsky). The tapes lead to questions about Georges’ early life that disrupt both his work and marriage. Unmarked videocassettes that show extended observation of their home’s exterior from a static street camera, at first passive and harmless, but later accompanied by crude, and disturbing. One videotape leads Georges to Majid (Maurice Bénichou), an Algerian man whose parents worked for Georges’ family before they were killed in the Paris massacre of 1961. Georges confronts Majid about the tapes, but he denies. However, the encounter intensifies his guilty flashbacks and recurring nightmares of a young Majid spitting blood, cutting off a rooster’s head, and menacing him.
One day Pierrot doesn’t come home from school and Anne can’t locate him. Georges and Anne suspect that Majid has kidnapped him. They go to the police, who accompany Georges to Majid’s apartment. There they find Majid and his son (Walid Afkir), and they both deny about the kidnapping. And then on the same morning, Pierrot returns. He had spent the night at a friend’s house without telling anyone. Furthermore, Majid invites Georges to his apartment, and after stating that he had nothing to do with the surveillance, Majid says he wanted Georges to be present for what follows. Majid kills himself by slashing his own throat.
If you’re hoping to entertained by this film, then you will be disappointed. It is not meant to entertain you. You should at some point in the film be confused, even angered, by what is happening. You will think. A lot. Maybe, you’ll start by thinking about the puzzling plot.
Then, in your search for answers, you probably won’t find the answer you’re looking for, or maybe you’ll find many answers. The point is that in searching for a resolution to complete the narrative, you will have gone over the clues over and over, replaying each scene in your head for meaning. The film forces you to question every frame, it has advanced its themes far more effectively than more traditional narratives. It may not make for two hours of thrills, but it should get people to think about the big issues.
The film is a wonderful examination of guilt, paranoia, prejudice, racial issues, and responsibility in a very modern context. The strength of the film lies in the subject that will disturb anyone. Many of us have something in our past that we wish to hide or not discuss. Yet there is a conscience in us that nags us to believe that it still haunt us everytime. Haneke has produced something as intellectually challenging as it is emotionally troubling, without the help of surging background music, jump cuts, or snappy chases. It is this psychological fact that makes the film tick, much less its cinematic flourish.
As for that matters Haneke nominated for Palme d’Or, and he won Prix de la mise en scène (Best Director), Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, and the FIPRESCI (Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique) Price at the 58th Cannes Film Festival.
1. Das weiße Band (2009)
Premiered at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival in May 2009, the film written and directed by Michael Haneke. Haneke shot this film in crisp black and white. The drama darkly depicts society and family in a northern German village just before World War I, 1913-1914. Marinated in anguish, sexual humiliation, animal cruelty and death, Michael Haneke returns with his most challenging film.
The Plot: Narrated by an old man recalling his days as the village schoolteacher (Christian Friedel). Strange events happen in a small village in the north of Germany during the years just before World War I, which seem to be ritual punishment. The setting is the fictitious Protestant village of Eichwald, Germany, from July 1913 through August 1914, where the local pastor, the doctor and the baron rule the roost over the area’s women, children and peasant farmers. The story begins with a doctor (Rainer Bock) crashing from his horse by a tripwire. Then the baron’s (Ulrich Tukur) son Sigi (Fion Mutert) is missing and then founded hang upside down with bruises. Pets are killed. Cabbages are beheaded. Women are humiliated. And again, children are abused while being forced to wear a white ribbon of “purity”. The abused and suppressed children of the villagers seem to be at the heart of this mystery.
Haneke is here in his element, applying meticulously controlled technique to heated hostilities. The coldness burns, the smarts dialogue, and the regulated violence half-glimpsed. A scalpel slash to the mind’s eye. One subplot even offers a very modest romance betwen the schooltheacher and the young nanny Eva (Leonie Benesch). While the thoughtful and stark voiceover, shimmering visuals suggest dream and allegory. Lessons can be learned from this strange community cocooned in the mists of time and memory.
Haneke has said the project was in development for more than ten years. The initial version of the script was written as a television mini-series for the Austrian broadcaster, but when no co-producer who was willing to invest in the project had been found after five years had passed, Haneke decided to put the project on hold. Eventually revived as a feature film, the production was led by the Austrian company Wega Film. It was also co-produced by X Filme (Germany), Les Films Du Losange (France) and Lucky Red (Italy). The film received financial support from the Austrian Film Institute, various local funds in Germany, the French CNC and the Council of Europe’s film fund Eurimages. The choice to make the film in black and white was based partly on the resemblance to photographs of the era, but also to create a distancing effect. All scenes were originally shot in color and then altered to black and white. Before filming started, Christian Berger Haneke’s director of photography studied the black-and-white films with Sven Nykvist as cinematographer. In some scene, where the camera moves in 360 degrees, tiles were added frame by frame to replace the original Eternit roofs.
So it’s hard to fault this remarkable movie from Europe’s most revered modern director, a film that feels too superior to be called anything other than a masterpiece. Then again, superior is the word. The only thing that makes The White Ribbon gleam a little coldly is that you sometimes get the feeling that’s exactly what its maker thinks it is, too.
Haneke’s The White Ribbon won Palme d’Or in the 62nd Cannes Film Festival and won the best foreign language at 67th Golden Globe Awards. And also the film nominated for Best Foreign Language at the 82nd Academy Awards. He marks the ascendance of a major filmmaker to the rank of greatness.