I watched this film in a International Cinema class. We talked at length about all the different perspectives that are on this topic. Discussions like this are why I think this site is wonderful. I hope other people catch on to other movie topics in this spirit.
In reference to the topic at hand, I also at first wanted to know who sent the tapes. By the end I didn’t care because I figured out that it didn’t matter to the messages of the film. In my class discussion it was brought up that Haneke sent the tapes, which I believe was a brilliant and true theory.
“By clearly showing us that Georges is not really trying to deal with his guilt, but hide it or rationalize it”
Yes, I one sense it’s a classic case of Freudian “return of the repressed”:
Freud’s idea of guilt had to do with the internalization of aggressiveness and redirecting of it by the superego back onto the ego. This is guilt, which expresses itself as a “need for punishment.”
When a good filmmaker does not want to reveal or give a simple answer to an obvious question that a viewer may ask, it can either frustrate the viewer or the viewer should see what else the film may be about. People who dwell on the question of who sent the tape reminds me of my ex. When we exited the theater after seeing L’avventura, she was only curious about what happened to Anna. Talk about missing the point(s) of the movie…!
…what happens when the “macguffin” is too powerful.
The more I think about this, the more I like Cache.
Please continue posting so that I can like this more. :)
Have you noticed the frequency with which there’s a huge quantity of media (books, etc.) looming in the backgrounds of shots?:
I just read this thread and I kinda agree with Antoine. Haneke has always been a sucker for reflexivity/auto-reflexivity and we can see in the first shot that the viewer attention and implication is implicated in that picture (when you realize we are seeing a videotape instead of a movie). Shot like this one and others in the movie are reenforcing your position I think and it seems rather possible and coherent with Haneke’s body of work that he wanted the film to be like that. As we see in movies like Funny Games, Haneke make the director interfere in the traditional narration of the film and that’s why him sending the tapes seems indeed a pretty plausible theory.
Thanks for this thoughtful analysis!
Another element that’s always intrigued me in relation to the post above is that the massive wall of books in the studio have nothing on the spines; they are completely blank. Why would a television program about the discussion of the content of books include a back drop in which all of the books are blank?
A part of me feels that this element is some kind of comment about the conflict between truth and memory. That the “cold hard truth” contained in a book is not nearly as important to the reader as the memory the reader has of the book he/she read; that once a book has been read that book loses power compared to the memory that recalls it.
What that has to do with the tapes? You got me.
Also: I am still frustratingly baffled by the dinner party scene. The knock on the door, Georges goes and answers it, goes outside to confront whoever knocked, reenters the doorway, and can’t close the door because a tape is lodged in the doorway. There seems no possible way that tape would have landed there as a result of George’s opening of that door 30 seconds before. It would have made a sound, he would have noticed it when he opened the door. There’s no way anyone outside the house could have planted it AFTER he opened the door and escaped without notice. It simply had to be somebody inside the house that planted it. This element makes the son very likely complicit.
-There’s no way anyone outside the house could have planted it AFTER he opened the door and escaped without notice. It simply had to be somebody inside the house that planted it-
. . . or someone neither outside nor inside the house.
The teenage son talking with the Arab man’s son at the school has to mean something, but what?
Haneke presents us with red herrings to keep the sender a mystery, but ultimately it’s not important—it’s an incidental discussion to the film and nothing more.
Thematically, film isn’t concerned with who sent the tapes, and it was meant by Haneke to be an unanswerable question anyway.
Yes. Surely it’s a classic Macguffin if there ever was one.
Its a Macguffin. Haneke admitted theres no certain way to know who sended the tapes. But the interpretation you give its perfectly valid in a postmodern way. I‘ll watch the film again with your idea on mind.
I figured I’d give my interpretations before I read others- it’s interesting to see the divergence/convergence of opinions
First off, having seen this sober, I noticed that, while husband and wife were discussing the strange happenings, the news was playing in the background. The news story is semi-audible as the couple talks but “cache” can be clearly heard. Prejudices against Arabs by the white bourgeois are subtle yet apparent. The wife’s comment that Majid couldn’t be harassing them because “he’s not smart enough” almost slipped by me- way to go underestimating the metal capacity of someone she doesn’t know- he’s Arab i.e. synonymous with inferiority. Georges’s Editor-In-Chief informs him that his exhibit (on television possible) will have to wait until May before it can be decided upon- thought the deadline was met. Having mentioned that news first, his mention of a video of a conversation between Georges and an Arab doesn’t read as clearly as the cause of why his project must be reviewed at a later time. Of course, Geroges can check back in in a few months- he can also ditch the Arab. Unrelated? I think not More obvious prejudice can be seen in the police’s treatment of Majid’s Son- they punch him and proceed to arrest him without any proof. Obviously he is thought to be, foremost, a guilty criminal; he must be proven innocent, not guilty. I feel as if the tapes, which (mostly) show nothing more than the outside of his house and childhood house, were more unnerving to Georges than the drawings. With the drawings and his memories, he is able to connect the strange occurrences to a likely suspect however the tapes gave no hint as to any identity. It is almost as if the recordings are those of a bystander watching Georges- the “watcher” does not show any sort of opinion or judgment- his guilt simply reads the tapes as sinister. If he had not guilt, a prank might seem more likely, or the tapes/drawings less sinister. I must digress a bit to say that, after having seen Michael Haneke’s “The White Ribbon,” it contains a major Religion and religious guilt theme. The White Ribbon is, to me, greatly linked to Cache – both films allude Haneke’s preoccupation with guilt and the uncertainty of those who feel it. Back to the idea of an unbiased watcher (the camera)- It seems to me that one can apply a religious theme to Cache and etch a scenario where the watcher is “God.” It is almost as if Georges’ guilt over his sins was, and still was, visible to something/someone unknown. After having been given the whole story- the lies Georges used to ruin Majid (rendering his adoption unlikely)- it seems obvious that neither Majid nor his son was responsible for the videos or drawings. When Georges leaves the apartment the first time, Majid breaks into tears- his emotions are that of sorrow, not of anger. Majid’s son however, views Georges with contempt- telling him that he was not raised like “that.” Essentially, his statement means that he (Majid’s son) would never stoop to the level of lying (about harassing him) or ruining the lives of others.
“Clues” that influenced my interpretation :
-Pierrot is enraged and upset; not being able to admit that he was the perpetrator, he makes a comment that implied that he was upset that Anne (his mother) might be having an affair. While an affair might be upsetting, the sort of rage he showed seemed far deeper.
- Majid did not have a bed (the couch was a bed), let alone a tv, so it seemed unlikely that he could afford a camcorder
-Pierrot’s actions fit with the idea that, with each new generation, the previous generation’s (uneducated) ideas and prejudices begin to be seen, ragingly (and rightly so), as absurd and unfounded.
- When Majid’s son (in the final scene) speaks to Pierrot his conversation can almost be “heard” (and understood) though not in an audible way; more like it can be “read” – roughly 80% of human communication is non-verbal. The son’s gestures (pointing with clear annunciation) indicates that he has been blamed by Georges for the tapes while it was, in fact, Pierrot’s doing.
It took me a few rewinds to see Pierrot and Majid’s son talking outside of the school- I kept looking for them in the background- I expected them to be hidden. I suppose the final scene is much like the prejudice and harm that in seen within the film’s adults- some things are hidden in plain sight.
(it’s late so I’m not going to bother with proofreading)
It’s you who is sending the tapes.