Hollywood’s hidden agenda riles Haneke
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.