Springtime for Haneke
The Austrian maestro has once again transposed one of his Euro dramas to the US, writes Donald Clarke
JUST A FEW short years ago a project such as this would have seemed inconceivable. Michael Haneke, the austere Austrian director of Hidden and Funny Games, has reshot The White Ribbon, his untouchable 2009 historical melodrama, in English with largely mainstream (though disproportionately Germanic) movie stars. It’s also in 3D. Der mann ist geisteskrank, ja? Not necessarily.
In recent months, two other highbrow German-speaking directors have unveiled serious projects utilising the 3D process. Wim Wenders has given the world Pina, a dance documentary, and Werner Herzog delivered Cave of Forgotten Dreams, a study of ancient cave paintings. Remember also, that, just three years ago, Haneke remade Funny Games in English. If anything, the concept seems too obvious.
Fear not. Haneke has retooled the project with enormous ingenuity – redirecting attention from the film’s id to its super-ego – and created a masterpiece whose tenacious psycho-sorcery exceeds even that of the distinguished original.
Relocated to 1970s Cleveland, the new film, again a study of children reacting against parental totalitarianism, necessarily jettisons the source material’s connections to the Nazi regime, but its implied criticism of coming American Christo-Fascism is at least as devastating.
The biggest (and most welcome) surprise is that Haneke, not normally at home to populism, has engaged with the 3D tradition and concluded that the process is at its best when enhancing the flight of hurtling objects.
Not since punters ducked at the oncoming train in L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat have a film’s action sequences intruded so conspicuously into the auditorium. Timber from the burning barn crashes towards the huddling
Fire and brimstone: Val Kilmer’s barn comes to an eye-popping bad end