Hol­ly­wood’s hid­den agenda riles Haneke

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - News -

In be­tween mak­ing his own movies, provoca­tive Aus­trian di­rec­tor Michael Haneke finds time to teach film­mak­ing to stu­dents in Vi­enna. Haneke, who col­lected prizes at Cannes for Hid­den and The Pi­ano Teacher, re­cently made his US de­but with a frame-by-frame re­make of his own 1997 film Funny Games, re­leased here to­day and re­viewed on page 12.

In a New York Times in­ter­view, Haneke ob­served that “po­lit­i­cal ma­nip­u­la­tion is ram­pant in the Amer­i­can me­dia”. He said that his film- school lec­tures some­times jux­ta­pose the pro­pa­gan­dist clas­sics of Sergei Eisen­stein (Bat­tle­ship Potemkin, 1925) and Leni Riefen­stahl (Tri­umph of the Will, 1935) with the Hol­ly­wood ac­tion movie Air Force One (1997), star­ring Har­ri­son Ford as a heroic US pres­i­dent.

“Each of th­ese films has a dis­tinct po­lit­i­cal agenda,” he said, “but all make use of ex­actly the same tech­niques, all have a com­mon goal – the to­tal ma­nip­u­la­tion of the viewer. What’s ter­ri­ble about the Har­ri­son Ford film, though, es­pe­cially ter­ri­ble, is that it rep­re­sents it­self as sim­ple en­ter­tain­ment. The au­di­ence doesn’t re­alise there’s a mes­sage hid­den there.

“In the Ger­man-speak­ing world, and in most of the rest of Europe, that type of straight­for­ward sto­ry­telling, which the Nazis had made such good use of, came to be viewed with dis­trust.”

One as­sumes that Haneke ad­vises his stu­dents that the di­rec­tor of Air Force One, Wolf­gang Petersen, is Ger­man.

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