Michael Haneke: cinema's serious man

The Guardian newspaper's Jonathan Jones on Austrian filmmaker, Michael Haneke
Michael Haneke. Photograph: Nicolas Guerin/Corbis
Haneke has put European cinema back into the premier league (I won't say singlehandedly, because frankly the Eurozone seems to be teeming with gifted directors in a way that it hasn't been since the 1970s), but while others are promising, he is unquestionably in the same class as Antonioni, Fassbinder, or Godard. His films are classics: they are perfect and they are profound.

I wrote about Haneke briefly a few weeks ago, but what I want to do here is urge anyone who hasn't seen his film Code Unknown (2000) to do so immediately. Well, perhaps not immediately. You might want to wait until you feel up to a disturbing, unresolved, anxiety-inducing, guilt-ridden confrontation with the moral emptiness of the globalised world, or the impossibility of communication, or the imperative to act in a world where action is probably a mistake.

But it's such an intellectually and aesthetically rewarding film; it's like waking up to find the golden age of cinema has come back, but in modern clothes. It is one of those films, such as Short Cuts and Magnolia, that capture the feel of contemporary life in a series of interweaving stories. But it is the best of such films that I have ever seen. Haneke has taught at film school, and often in his films you have the sense of a subversive masterclass. In this film he is deconstructing all those cool, fragmentary art movies, and showing how it should be done. [Read the article]

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