With Caché, Michael Haneke questions our position as spectators. Who is watching who? [critique]

Arte devotes its Sunday evening to the Austrian filmmaker.

After devoting a documentary by Christoph Waltz, Arte will offer this Sunday a new subject dedicated to his half-brother Michael Haneke (they both had the same father-in-law, the conductor Alexander Steinbrecher, who first married Haneke’s mother, Beatrix Degenschild , then that of Waltz, Elisabeth Urbancic). Before discovering Code Haneke (already visible on Arte.TV), the channel will offer its thriller Hiddenworn by Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche, in 2005.

Without being the most significant film of Haneke’s career, Hidden is still intriguing enough to keep the viewer awake. Daniel Auteuil plays an ordinary husband who receives videotapes showing him and his family in their daily lives. Who is watching him like this from the street? What is the purpose of this harassment? How to get rid of the anonymous videographer?

Michael Haneke: “If you do drama, you have to make people angry”

When it was released, the film was liked by fluctuation (then partner of First), who wrote this long analysis:

Awarded, at the last Cannes Film Festival, the prize for directing, Hidden marks the opportunity for the director to rework, with his favorite actors, on themes that haunt him: the violence of the image, the scopic drive…
So far, so good. Georges and his wife (Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche) have it all: money, comfort and friends that go with it, not to mention pampered offspring. Presenter of a literary program, he occupies a prestigious and exposed, intellectual and media position… A sort of Bernard Pivot, he regularly offers himself to TV cameras. All is well in the best of all possible worlds until the day when a video cassette will show him that he can be filmed without his knowledge. Not quite like the surveillance cameras placed in the universe of every major city, but almost. Someone points his camera at his universe like a scientist takes out his microscope to examine a mouse he has just gutted.

This is Haneke’s strength. A few sequences are enough for him to pose the problems. Far from limiting himself to theoretical lessons, he plunges us into this situation by transforming it into a thriller film. What is an image? The foreground already blurs our view as it seems obvious at first glance. The video image is still and the viewer in the movie theater expects the story to begin. However, nothing happens, and this void creates an event. We then experience a kind of face-to-face encounter that leads to a cascade of questions. Whose images are these, where are we and why do we see them? Plunged into the heart of the frame thanks to a simple and judicious composition of the image, the viewer believes he is seeing through the prism of a video camera. He will learn a few seconds later that what he thought was a subjective camera shot, giving him the filmmaker’s vision, actually shows what the person being filmed sees…

Conflict of origins
Hidden barely begins and we are questioned in our position of spectator. Who is watching who? Between the image shot by the demiurge director and that made for the pleasure of the all-powerful voyeur, on which side of the screen is the power? From this first aesthetic choice, develops the story of a man confronted with the camera of a voyeur, which sends us back to our own system of images. If in Funny Games, the director put us face to face with our scopic desire by making us experience the various degrees of violence, he extends his study of the gaze under the prism this time of revenge and the sadism that accompanies it. As if he were forming, as his work progressed, a troupe of actors so that his films explicitly responded to each other, Haneke once again chose Juliette Binoche, Maurice Bénichou and Annie Girardot. Moreover, we obviously think of Unknown Code and to The Pianist seeing this last opus, paradoxically selected by Austria – the film is produced with French funds even if Haneke is Austrian – to represent it and compete for the Oscar for best foreign film.

Haneke also continues to confront his characters with the conflict of origins. Where do we come from? Who gave birth to us? Here, it is still a disorderly family romance caught in the meshes of the Algerian conflict which is resurfacing, so constitutively does it haunt the characters. The consequences of events reappear all the more strongly because they were concealed in the unconscious, both collective and personal. So how do you get rid of your guilt if you can? Hidden also seizes on this annoying question and offers its answer, the extent of which we will discover at the very end of the film…

Love, deadly but vibrant behind closed doors by Michael Haneke

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