“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.”
that was the point of the film. it was more about effects than ‘intent’, so to speak. I honestly believe the question of who sent the tapes is a ruse, and Haneke is having the last laugh.
Maybe there is a didactic Austrian director who will stick his finger in the eye of French history, but that isn’t Haneke.
He is saying something about history – the Algerian reference is referring to something with Georges’ past.
Is there anything in the film that says Georges turned Majid in because he was Algerian?
The answer is a clue what Haneke is saying about history.
“Maybe there is a didactic Austrian director who will stick his finger in the eye of French history, but that isn’t Haneke.”
why not? he certainly wasn’t above poking the eyes of a certain kind of viewer with Funny Games now was he? There is definitely an element of soapbox finger waving about Hidden, just like with Funny Games. Whenever Haneke makes a genre film, i always feel it. ‘HERE IS SOMETHING COLONIAL GUILT TO GO WITH IT!’ etc etc.
i agree there is probably more to it, but don’t act as if Haneke is above cheap provocation just because he is a ‘smart’ director. A good percentage of his films are basically middle fingers to the bourgeousie.
French government to honestly reveal or deal with the real massacre of Algerians in Paris
he isn’t didactic about history – the central point in the film isn’t to tell the French to fess up
Btw, here is the original post – but it is just a recollection, not a transcript of Haneke saying he didn’t send the tapes.
From the Ebert review (the most recent link): “As Majid tells Georges, his life and his education were forever changed by Georges’ actions as a five-year-old boy. Georges felt threatened by his parent’s decision to adopt the Algerian orphan, and lied in telling them the boy was spitting up blood — an alarming signal of tuberculosis. In a wretched scene, observed in long shot from (presumably) Georges’ POV, social workers drag Majid away from the only home he’s known.”
This lead me to think of several things:
1. That the film is not so much about the murdered Algerians (a specific historical incident), but the treatment of immigrants in France (particularly those from the Middle-East). Pierrot represents the younger generation fed up with the hypocrisy of the older generation, particularly the bourgeoisie—liberals who are really hostile to immigrants despite their professed politics.
2. The camera watching the apartment signifies that the liberal middle class are being watched, scrutinized, (on trial?).
I think this explanation fits with the ending and it seems to fit with most of the film. Then again, I haven’t seen it in a while, so I’m not sure. In any event, if this is a valid ending, it would make me think less of the film.
“Images lie. History lies. We lie to ourselves.”
How about giving more specific examples to make a case for this.
The “We lie to ourselves” line made me think of something else: The antipathy towards immigrants is something that the French intellectuals don’t want to admit to themselves (it’s hidden). What’s also hidden to them is the connection between colonialism and the current attitudes towards Middle-East immigrants.
Well, I’m just throwing these theories out there.
History tells us that there is an inherent order to our world. The order we perceive is a thin veil over the chaos and randomness that is our world.
I need to watch this again: I am curious about something I read that Georges wasn’t being malicious towards Majid – that calls into question the guilty conscious angle.
How important is the subject of lies to Haneke? It was Haneke who turned Godard’s truth 24FPS into:Film is 24 lies per second at the service of truth, or at the service of the attempt to find the truth.
“History tells us that there is an inherent order to our world. The order we perceive is a thin veil over the chaos and randomness that is our world.”
OK, but how does that film support that view? What’s your case that this is what the film is essentially about?
The IMDB guy said: “I saw Haneke interviewed onstage at London’s BFI last month,”
It must have been one of these Nov 2009 interviews:
From Ebert’s growing thread- this 4th wall theorist rollan schott thinks it is Haneke
We see Georges come into possession of one of the videos only once, during the dinner party. The doorbell rings and Georges opens the door to go outside, deduces that no one is out there and then returns to find the video cassette in the doorway. We know that Georges opened the door to go outside, so the video had to have been placed there after he had stepped out onto the sidewalk.
Camera placement is pivotal in this moment. The camera pans to the left as Georges makes his way down to the door, then follows him outside, halting at the gate. With the camera suspended in this narrow gateway, we are left with the conviction that no one snuck in behind him. The camera does cut away to a pair of perspective shots, but we remain firm in our convictions because the brief shots establish that Georges is keenly aware of his surroundings and that someone trying to sneak in behind him would surely be seen.
But still the question remains – How did the video tape arrive at a position that it could not have arrived at until after Georges opened the door? Who did we miss? Who snuck past the camera? The answer is simple. It’s not about who snuck behind the camera, but about who was already behind it in the first place.
If you set the above to Georges it shows it is possible to be Georges. I may have to watch this again shudddddder – and I hate watching films over….
If the person making and dropping off the tapes is Haneke, what is its significance? Personally, I think the suggestion that Haneke is the one is a little silly. But I’m open to hearing a case for that—and, to me, a compelling case would be how Haneke’s delivery of the tapes fits with an overall interpretation of the film.
@ Jazz OK, but how does that film support that view? What’s your case that this is what the film is essentially about?
Sorry missed that post.
essentially that things are not linear in existence – the story isn’t linear, that is why it would be difficult and unnecessary to figure out who delivers the tapes.
@ Jazz ; a compelling case would be how ………… delivery of the tapes fits with an overall interpretation of the film.
Who delivers doesn’t matter, but yes, the delivery-mystery figures into the interpretation i.e. what is the mystery of surveillance telling us about perception of self, history, truth, lies, and etc?
This where Ebert is way off in his frame-by-frame reductive approach – he needs to ask & answer the big question first: what is it about ?
By Ben M. on January 20, 2010 7:58 AM:
Here, I believe he is ultimately commenting how “editing” is not a process exclusive to film. We all edit in the way we juxtapose fragments in a way that makes sense of the world. However, not only is this a false representation of reality, this strategy becomes problematic when the information can no longer be pasted together in a meaningful way, which is the discomfort that the characters in Caché are increasingly confronted with. Caché repeats this theme on multiple layers:
In other words: not only are we constantly fed an edited version of reality, we actively edit reality ourselves.
….slowly working up to what the film is about – hoping someone will find an answer so I don’t have to re-watch it !
Latest submission to Ebert’s thread:
A theme in Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima Mon Amour might be relevant here: one must forget the past to move forward.
Are the surveillance tapes allowing Georges to forget the past by establishing a present?
Georges is delivering the tapes.
The last scene as mentioned D Stroh on January 20, 2010 11:45 PM: “…again illustrate how our past will always intersect with our future.”
By Rick Stoeckel on January 23, 2010 6:14 PM
The encounter between Georges and Majid is then sent to Georges’ house for him to watch. Majid is seen crying at his own kitchen table until the tape runs out. The only other potential film character who could be the recorder here is Majid’s son. But again, the son was not in the apartment, and logically, it seems Majid is resonsible for this tape.
This theory is damaged after Majid’s suicide tape finds its way to Georges. Since dead men can’t send videos, he could not have sent this tape. I do believe he recorded it though. I think Majid left his son a note regarding the suicide video he recorded asking his son to send it to the media and ruin Georges career/life.
Instead the son sends the footage only to Georges and confronts Georges in person instead. The son chose to not destroy Georges life even though he had a good reason to. Even during this scene of confrontation, Georges refuses to accept the past and denies any of the resposiblity for what happened. When Georges leaves that bathroom, he leaves his last chance at redemption.
The observation changes the observed.
- here is the original post – but it is just a recollection, not a transcript of Haneke saying he didn’t send the tapes.-
But doesn’t the notion of whether or not Haneke is the true sender depend on where you close the system? If we limit our awareness to the characters in the film, then Haneke cannot be the sender. However, if you open up the system—the surveillence/viewer narrative system—to include the fact that we are watching a film with Haneke as the director, then in a sense it is Haneke who sent the tapes, and his denials, misdirections, and hints become just another piece of the narrative.
Fantastic! I just finished this film and here were the thoughts I jotted down as I watched it. Having subsequently read this thread, I would only amend to include Joe’s excellent theory about collusion between the two sons, and an expansion of a possible exegesis of the film to include all immigrants rather than just Algerians (Jazzahola’s point above). Sorry for some of the rest being repetitive of what’s already been pointed out here.
The film is about truths we hide; from ourselves, from our spouses, from our family, from our co-workers, and so on. Surveillence here is not meant to connote some sort of Big brother always watching, but our own consciences constantly harboring those memories, waiting—surveilling—for the moment when we act in such a way as to necessitate their return. The tapes are symbolic.
Notice the similarities between the living room, the talk show set and his superior’s office: charis set close together with books/tapes all around. The living room and the office are supposed to be places of intimacy, places where things are not hidden, but they are just as much places of show as the set. The only place the truth is spoken in the film, truly, is in Majid’s apartment.
The juxtaposition of these tapes with the newsreel tapes (and the appearance of such news tapes in Haneke’s previous films) is indicitive of a statement about France’s guilt over the 1961 Algerian protest, and subsequent massacre.
The shot in the elevator is excellent—George is barely visible in the reflection of the wall, trying to hide from the truth, from Majid’s son, from his conscience, which of course is impossible.
re 4th wall
I think it has to be in the film – it has to be shown or referenced in the film or concluded circumstantially
e.g. We see Georges come into possession of one of the videos only once, during the dinner party. The doorbell rings and Georges opens the door to go outside, deduces that no one is out there and then returns to find the video cassette in the doorway. We know that Georges opened the door to go outside, so the video had to have been placed there after he had stepped out onto the sidewalk.
That example ^ shows circumstantially that it could have been Georges.
Have you or anyone looked at the Haneke interviews to see if he denied it:
Supposedly he said it was a character in the film.
Re: ‘that example’. I think it’s a bit of a stretch to say that he opens the door and there is no videotape, then turns around and one is there. More likely he simply wasn’t looking down when he initially opened the door, and only noticed the tape when he turned around.
@josh ryan: Surveillence here is not meant to connote some sort of Big brother always watching, but our own consciences constantly harboring those memories, waiting—surveilling—for the moment when we act in such a way as to necessitate their return. The tapes are symbolic.
Indeed it is what the tapes represent that is central to the film – more than the act of surveillance.
Ultimately, we deliver our conscience to ourselves, which is why I think it is Georges delivering the tapes.
I like the idea of that theory, and I don’t really have any problem with it in as much as it is Georges conscience that is “delivering” all the misery to him in any case.
Which is to say I think we mostly agree. I’m definitely not saying I have the definitive answer to any Haneke film’s mystery.
josh ryan: I have been collecting this stuff for my re-viewing – so I will be testing that scene.
Cool. I’m also putting together a Garage section on Haneke’s films (for Cache I’ll definitely be linking to this thread which already has some great insight).
The explanation, as articulated by Josh, is the most compelling one I’ve heard so far.
Georges’ sending the film to himself seems out of left field. He doesn’t have to be sending himself the films in order for the idea that we can’t escape our conscience. (The idea that we “deliver our conscience to ourselves” seems odd and awkward.) In any event, the film would have to “explain” in a plausible way how Georges would send tapes to himself. In the film, he doesn’t seem to know who’s sending him the films? Why is he faking this uncertainty? Or what is in the film that supports the idea that he’s sending the films to himself without knowing he’s doing this. I’m open to the possibility, but the explanation seems bizarre.
It’s about his conscience – what is he doing: developing one? hiding from one? uncovering one?
And yes, it is out of left field – if everyone is looking in right field and not finding anything – look in left field.
If that’s the case, isn’t it odd (at least on the literal level) the degree which Georges takes seriously his own belief that it’s Majid who is doing at this?
Also, even if we accept that it is Georges both behind and in front of the voyeuristic camera (the one making the tapes), doesn’t that naturally lead to some curiosity as to who it is behind the other (narrative) camera?
That is the kind of question worth asking: the observation changes the observed.
Is blaming Majid the development of a (guilty) conscience?
A related question: weren’t the actions that are (or, at least, so we are led to believe) the sources of Georges’ guilt things he did at an age before he was legitimately mature enough to fully comprehend the moral/ethical aspect of? Georges reaction to his actions as a six-year-old seem (on the literal level) almost psychologically implausible.
Matt: Based on personal experience as well as countless psychological profiles and case studies I’ve read it is all-too plausible. Even if the memories were repressed or retooled to accommodate a more consciously pleasant state, the subconscious guilt could still manifest itself.
Georges’ reactions to his actions as a six-year-old are made more intense because of the ruinous affect those actions had on Majid. This actually leads to the most damning evidence against Georges Lone Gunman theory—that Georges was unaware of said ruinous affect at the time he discovered the first video.