RE (= Roger Ebert) posted just yesterday morning (or the day’s before) his newest “Great Movie” — Haneke’s “Hidden.”
I saw it a few months ago and really loved it; watched it twice, I did. Bought a copy (something I don’t do as much as renting) cause I knew I’d want to see it much more than once again.
In his review, he mentions some crucial scene at about the 20 minute and 39 second mark (on the DVD) that completely changed the way he read the film’s mystery.
After my initial two viewings, I had pretty well crafted responses to what I thought the movie was about; nothing too extraordinary or different from what most reviewers have said: the whole thing with (SPOILARZ!) assuaged guilt and forgetting about one’s responsibility and the inarticulable truths to our lives we can rarely get a perspective on.
What got me going, so, was after reading RE’s review, I pulled out my DVD copy and rewatched it. And then rewatched it once again. (Kind of intense, I know, eh?, but it’s so well made it didn’t really seem so ‘intense’ at the time.) And now I can’t figure out for the life of me or anyone WHAT Ebert’s referring to.
(I do have some half-ideas, but they’re kinda whacked. And they’d also sort of ruin what Haneke’s said — maybe misleadingly — in interviews about there being a definite ‘solution’ to the movie.)
Do you guys have any ideas?
PS. Here’s a link to the full entry: http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100113/REVIEWS08/100119986/1004
Can someone with the DVD post a screenshot of said scene? I’m pretty curious as to what Ebert is talking about.
I just saw this on the big screen a few days ago. A crucial hint that it is indeed Haneke sending the tapes as a sort of prime mover for the drama to be set into motion, is clearly pointed out in the scene where the doorbell is rung and the husband goes outside to find no one there. The camera follows closely behind him and when he attempts to close his door a videotape has been placed between. Clearly the only person who could place it there was Haneke, and I’d say it’d be absurd to think other wise.
I don’t know if this is what he’s referring to, but it felt like it was 20-30 minutes into the film.
Urgh I have my DVD in and I keep backtracking and watching 20:35 to 20:40 and I can’t see anything. Some help?
Checkout this thread on the film for an explanation:
UnHidden Camera: The Real Sender of the Tapes
Here is as good an explanation as you are going to get. I checked out Antoine’s take on the ‘visible’ camera shadow, and it really is there, if you watch the frame carefully and freeze-frame.
gawd – 5 years latter, RE decides to figure it out.
That’s a great thread, @Joe Arthaus. The point about the camera man’s (“camera man’s”) gaffe (or cameo) is super.
At give or take 20 minutes and some in, there are a couple key shots (I think). Then again, nearly every shot (okay; all the shots) in this movie are k.e.y.
The first one is George and his son leaving to go somewhere, and George finds a kind of flyer or coupon or some such shit on his windshield. He looks a bit unnerved, glances around, and doesn’t seem too happy.
Another is the dinner party: George, his wife, and some friends sit around chatting, there’s talk of some screenplay whose plot isn’t known by anyone, and George telling a joke (reincarnated dogs, eh?).
I see it all thusly: who’s sending the tapes/b&w&r drawings isn’t important. Haneke is notoriously self- and intra-textually reflexive. And also likes playing with audience expectation: viz. Hitchcock and the MacGuffin suggestion in the thread linked to by Joe. The whole idea that the ‘heros’ can ‘solve’ the mystery as the movie’s clock runs out is something we all go into the theatre expecting; it shouldn’t surprise us that the man who gave us the (SPOILARZ! re Funny Games) murder-rewind in “Funny Games” would pull some kind of pomo screw-the-audience trick — or put more nicely, it isn’t a surprise that Haneke isn’t interested at all in the tapes or their delivery, but what they do on arrival.
Watching it (“Hidden”), I followed, I think like most of us, Haneke’s cues and began to focus more and more on George and how much he’s hiding to (1) his wife (2) himself and (3) us.
I wonder — and this is why I posted here this topic at all — if the entire premise of it-doesn’t-matter-who-sent-the-tapes can maybe help explain what George’s keeping hidden, and why. Like: if by knowing more about the tapes’ origins, or what’s significant about their content, (or whatever), then maybe the movie’s worth digging into even more deeply.
My two rxns re RE’s “amazingly insightful scene” (pictures below) are that (1) maybe George is not really receiving any tapes and — like the flyer he gets on his car — he’s substituting what he feels guilty for in his past with whatever (flyers, other kinds of tapes) he’s receiving in the present.
& (2) that all those books (which were pointed out in that other, great forum) lining all the walls in the house are just like the books on the set of his tv show — & it’s maybe okay well kind of unlikely but a possibility that that set design (ie. book-covered walls) is a way of linking his television show (fake) with his ‘real life’ (also fake, from our point of view) and maybe (maybe maybe maybe) Haneke is trying to show that George’s “life” as we see it is a set-up — not just from out own point of view but from the characters’ points of view, too. (Which is a really distended & long and ungainly way of going about the point that which fiction is accepted as ‘fake’ by us — the audience — but also the characters, tho’ they can’t admit it, maybe perhaps.)
Anyway, here are the two shots.
Antoine Dionel’s theory is okay, but of course the director is sending the tapes – he is directing the action, that is what he does.
Haneke tells us directly it cannot be solved in the film.
Hey @Robert W
I read this from an interview that Haneke did at the BFI stage in London sometime in the past few years:
Interviewer: “Having seen Caché several times, and having carefully studied the camera placement in the footage that’s sent to the couple, I’ve come to the conclusion that you, Haneke, are the one who sent the tapes, because it is physically impossible for them to have been sent by any of the actual characters!”
Haneke: “No, they were sent by a character.”
Which interview is giving me the willies; that & RE’s recent essay make me question everything about the film that I had thought I’d maybe thought through thoroughly.
Resulting in: this thread.
If Charles De Gaulle himself had directed an episode of Lost, he couldn’t have come up with a better “whatzis!” than Haneke.
My sarcasm made it sound like I agreed with Antoine – no.
Nice add with that interview quote. I’m not seeing what RE is saying though – the tapes we are shown are not seen by George?
True true. Saying “the director did it” looks and smells like a cop-out. I mean: it’s obvi. that he (Haneke) did do it, but we’re not in “Funny Games” territory anymore, I think.
George did see, I’m pretty sure on a bunch of different levels, the tapes. The most cunning theory I’ve got is somehow like that he’s (George is) not just responsible for Majid’s life etc. but also maybe … ?for? the tapes themselves? Like his guilt or whatever made everything manifest.
The whole film is too smart and too Hitchcock (like, playing with the audience in ways that are cohesive with the story it tells) to be a total ruse. Haneke made a Real Film and it’s worth re and re watching it to understand more what exactly is the deal.
You (Robert or anyone) got any thoughtzz?
Anthony – you problably saw this on Antoine’s thread, but here is my explanation posted (under my old account) to that thread. If, indeed, Haneke is telling the truth (who knows) that it is a character(s), here is my take, repeated for this thread:
Love Antoine’s premise, but, boy is that solution hard to get on a regular sized (28") tv screen – even with the pause button in hand. So, I offer my alternative take on this. I believe that Georges’ son, Pierrot, is implicated in the sending of the tapes, working in collusion with Majid’s son. Haneke says the sender of the tapes is never solved in the film – he left it open-ended. I think we must believe Majid when he says he didn’t send the tapes. Majid’s son also said he didn’t send the tapes. This leaves either someone we haven’t seen in the film, or Georges’ own son as a possibility. We know Pierrot is upset with both his parents, as several scenes in the film with his father, and especially the scene with his mother after his ‘disappearance’, where Pierrot pushes her away when she tries to hug him demonstrate. The reason for his disappearance – when his parents believe he may be kidnapped – is never explained. We know he spent the night at a friend’s place, but we never learn why he never phoned his parents to tell them where he was. This would indicate he had something to hide that he didn’t want his parents to know. Yet, the placing of the camera, the video shot inside the car, the sheer trouble he would have getting to all the places where the videos are shot, placing a camera in Majid’s apartment – and the fact that he is only 12 years old – indicate he would, at least, need an accomplice.
Perhaps Majid’s son was the one filmming, at least for the shots in the car video and the one’s in Majid’s apartment. Maybe Georges’ son is then sending the tapes or doing the drawings, which ‘could be’ childish. This would assume that Pierrot knows the story that his father is repressing, and has been told by Majid’s son. The reason for his mistrust and obvious annoyance with his parents would then seem to be more than just pre-adolescent sulkiness. So, we have Majid’s son as the person taking the videos and Georges’ son as the sender of the tapes – which he gets from Majid’s son. Then Majid’s son isn’t lying when he says to Georges he didn’t send the tapes. Why have the meeting between the two sons are the end, cryptically shot so that – as Haneke himself says – only about 50% see it first off (as I did not)? Haneke talks about this with a grin (on the extra features) in the interview to imply there might or might not be some reason for this meeting, as we never see the two of them together before this scene.
Anyway, yet another possibility in this endlessly fascinating film. This solution, or any solution, is co-incidental to the theme of guilt and the many ways of hiding it (hence ’hidden’) that is the real focus of the film. Georges’ ultimate failure to fully comes to terms with his own guilt is the crux of the film – the ‘who sent the tapes’ is a Hanekean red herring – but intriguing to solve, nonetheless.
Joe’s interpretation seems to be plausible. On the other hand, it still doesn’t (and the other explanations I’ve skimmed through) explain what the film is about. What I’m getting is that the film is about the way secrets (particularly guilt laden ones) can come between a family. Did I get that right?
After seeing the film, I thought the film’s meaning had to do with the French guilt relating to their treatment of Algeria/Algerians—and, related to that, perhaps some current policies/issues towards immigrants. I think someone mentions that Georges’ talks about an incident of 200 dead Algerian protesters.) Is that too simple and bland of an explanation?
I’d be interested in anyone from France, Europe or anyone knowledgeable about current events in France at the time Haneke made the film.
Bob Stutsman the ‘who sent the tapes’ is a Hanekean red herring
under my old account: Joe = Bob?
Yeah, it’s a red herring, but even red herrings have to come from somewhere. Or at least be reductively explained away.
If that’s true (that the sons did the sending/taping) — and I think it really well could be — then I’m gonna sit up here and then stay up all night, wondering, “why?” That’s: why would Majid’s son want to pass on this information to George, whom he’s never met? And why would George’s son have it out for his parents so that he’d jump on the bandwagon w/ Majid’s son?
I think that’s crucial. My question: what does the movie say -about- this guilt? At the end George just goes off and sleeps it away, and the memory of what happened is passed along to the next generation. Is that like an apology or some kind of willed forgetting & transference to the next of kin? Big questions, here; none that little Canadian me can grapple with without a French lexicon and Le Paris News.
RE tweeted this morning this link as a w/r/t his newest Great Movie, ie. Cache, ie. which entry is the basis of this thread: http://www.michaelmirasol.com/flipcritic/2010/01/caches-smoking-gun.html
Robert -“under my old account: Joe = Bob?” Yes. I needed to close the old account to escape a persistent troll. Now thatt the troll seems to have gone, I am coming out of the shadows – gradually – much like the ‘sender’ of the tapes – ha!
So, Anthony, what are your conclusions from all this as to the relevance – or lack of it – of who sent the tapes? Thanks for the link to the last article.
Yeah. It sure’s fascinating stuff.
The ‘smoking gun’ does make sense when pointed by Pierrot and Majid Jr.
Looking at a lot of the film’s details and reading about the thorough analysis they inspire, I’m convinced that who sent the tapes’s not totally superfluous — like the 40,000 dollars in “Psycho” it serves to get the ball rolling, but still on its own has a history and detail to it that matter: Marion Crane had specific goals for the money and went to a lot of trouble (thematically and craftily) to get it & the tapes obviously have some kind of origin and process to their making, even if what they inspire (ie. George’s revisited guilt and its consequences) turns out to be more interesting / important.
So. Do the tapes matter? Yes and no. No because the movie is about a lot more than videotaping. And yes because there are shots and moments and motivations within Cache that require the tapes to have more than just a straw man-like metaphorical significance.
Maybe I should watch this movie like six or more times before I make up my mind. I know I’ll enjoy each viewing.
I think you have summed it up, Anthony. The question of ‘who sent the tapes’ may well have a ‘logical’ conclusion or it may be the intention of Haneke to make it impossible to tell within the context of the film – purposefully obfuscating. I am still sticking to my original thesis that it is a combination of Georges’ son and Majid’s son, to confront the failure of both their fathers to deal with the shattering event around which the film revolves. That is, if a solution does exist, and Haneke was not lying in his interview when he said it was one of the characters – ie, not ‘him’.
Of course, we know the failure of Georges and Majid to confront their inter-related past is connected in Haneke’s own mind as a distinct metaphor for the failure of the French government to honestly reveal or deal with the real massacre of Algerians in Paris (Paris massacre of 1961 – see the wiki article on the film for the link) that is the central point of Haneke’s film.
Still, apparently a true solution does exist as to ‘who sent the tapes’ according to an imdb reviewer, who points to an ‘official site’ where it is revealed in detail. But I can’t find anything on any ‘officlal site’ to provide the answer. Of course, we have many alternate solutions on the web. Unless anyone knows the true solution to this puzzle, we can just leave it at that.
Roger Ebert has revised his thoughts
All I got from that is that my idol is doing another remake. This time of a film I love. Please don’t, Mr. Scorsese. You have so many better things to do! Let Haneke make Haneke films! You make Scorsese films. :(
(this is not a jab at what Ebert wrote… I didn’t finish reading it)
I don’t usually complain about stuff, but this remake idea sounds TERRIBLE. Out of all the films out there, this is one that does not need to be remade. Sure, take the premise and go wild with it, but please don’t try to recreate this film!
Scorsese did a fine job with Infernal Affairs, I’ll leave it to him to judge. That said, Cache might be too great a movie to separate from.
Ebert’s piece initially reads as if he has never figured out a film before, yet he eventually gets vaguely to the point of the film.
Images lie. History lies. We lie to ourselves.
I’ll rule out Georges.
Scorsese himself remaking “Cache”, or perhaps only producing it? Whatever. I can’t wait until The Auteurs chorus of remake apologists come to this thread defending this really pointless exercise. Dimitris will love this.
What’s happened to Scorsese redoing Kurosawa’s “High and Low”? I suppose this maybe speaks to the absolutely wretched quality of the scripts presently circulating through Hollywood, that hitting on Haneke and Kurosawa is the better deal.
I’m not sure how remakes work legally, but Haneke could kill a remake perhaps by revealing the mystery.
Hmm, I wonder?
My submission to Ebert:
“I’ll rule out Georges.”
Images lie. History lies. We lie to ourselves.
Perhaps Georges, by way of the film, embodies those three things.
One wants to think the reason it can’t be Georges is that it is not a rational conclusion.
Is Haneke telling us that the rational ordering of images, history (memory), and conscience amounts to a bunch of lies?
And yes, Georges as the solution is intentionally problematic, as is rational (linear) analysis of a Haneke film problematic.
Btw, would this explain the camera shadow?
Georges put it there – he would know a filmmaker with a camera – he hosts a TV show.