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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stark, stunning and startling patchwork of lives and life, 6 Mar 2012
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This review is from: 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance [DVD] (DVD)
Michael Haneke does not make 'easy' films. '71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance', like the majority of his oeuvre, is uncomfortable, often emotionally draining and requires the viewer to engage and think through what they are seeing; instead of passively watching it. It is not a 'fun' film in any traditional sense of the world, but it is spellbinding, startling, original and hugely powerful. Haneke's 71 fragments are glimpses of lives, from a penniless Romanian orphan who has migrated to Vienna illegally, a troubled student, and a married couple watching the health of their daughter slowly drain away. This is a film which gives a harsh, yet compelling and realistic view of the psychological damage the modern world has on people. Unemotional newsreaders play out on monitors, with footage of real events - from the Northern Irish 'troubles', to the 'ethnic cleansing' of the Balkans, the news of the time Haneke's film was shot, in 1993/94. This footage comes between staged news footage (meant to look authentic), of those in the film, like the Romanian orphan, who is troubled, eloquent and frighteningly adult. He has seen his friends die, he has seen young girls go "on the game" as he puts it, and he is shown alone in a metropolis (in one of the non-news footage or staged news footage vignettes, which make up about 2/3 of the film), where he is laughed at by a passing driver, for eating an apple from a rubbish bin. This is incredibly moving and honest filmmaking, but even as a seasoned cynic, I found it hard to stomach.

I can't really find fault with '71 Fragments...', though that's not to say it's for everyone. The film is slow-paced, minimalist, and even for seasoned buffs of world cinema, sometimes hard to follow; due to the briefness of most of the 'fragments', and the multitude of characters. It is also not a film for the perennial optimist. The television buzzes in the home of a financially poor old man, who looks sadly on at the news around him, as his daughter fobs him off. And perhaps, despite all the superb minimalist camerawork, excellent plotting, and dialogue, this is the most startling and impressive thing about Haneke's film. He refuses to shy away from the miserable depths of human psychology, bringing them together fantastically for a chilling and poignant finale, which will live long in the memory. For anyone looking for a deep, moving and unblikingly truthful evocation of the human condition in the modern world, I couldn't recommend Haneke's '71 Fragments...' highly enough.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fragments of a Shattered Society...., 15 April 2012
Tim Kidner "Hucklebrook Hound" (Salisbury, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance [DVD] (DVD)
I felt as if this kaleidoscopic mosaic of modern (1994) Austria felt a bit watered down, diluted, by how many different strands to the story there were. Working my way chronologically through director Michael Haneke's 10 disc Anthology (71 Fragments is the third), the previous two, Seventh Continent and Benny's Video, each deal with one story only.

However, as it buzzed along, with Austrian TV News giving us the hottest headlines of the day, all horrible and violent stories from places like Kosovo and Belfast, Hanakeke's filmed ones similarly blurred into one long stream of mostly mundane and ordinary snippets of stories about everyday people. The TV snippets were short and sensational, Haneke's mostly slow and unsensational.

The psychology of it all is perplexing and no doubt Haneke has planned and crafted his film meticulously for maximum effect and, frankly, a bit beyond me. That said, he makes various statements about society as a whole, from a young Romanian boy escaping his country's troubles and ending up on Vienna's subway platforms, homeless, to a young Austrian child being adopted from a modern day orphanage and going to live with wealthy, middle class parents. The Romanian boy is arrested and we see him interviewed by police on TV, who tells of his atrocities and what he has run away from, whilst the adopted girl doesn't like the coat that her new parents have bought for her.

There are other little stories going on, inter-linking in some way, many involving a bank, where a fatal shooting will later occur. One of the tellers serves her father withdrawing his weekly pension and in order to hurry him along, she promises to phone him later. Much later on in the film, the old man has phoned her, she complains that he's running up his bill too high and then fobs him off.

The shooting, by a pent-up, disgruntled 19 y.o. student is a cold, extremely sobering climax to all this buzz. We have seen him, anonymously doing several different activities throughout this film. We don't know who he is or what he will do. The News still buzzes on the TV; this shooting being just another 'breaking news' story. Haneke reinforces this by having a couple of the stories from much earlier repeated, which we know to be an error in continuity. Is it the TV News's or Haneke's doing? It's unsettling either way. Which is how Haneke likes it and wants to make us feel about what he wants to say.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's Madness, 13 Mar 2013
Keith M - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance [DVD] (DVD)
This is the stark analysis of a shocked petrol station worker at the conclusion of Michael Haneke's 1994 kaleidoscopic treatise on the ills and alienating effects of modern western society (yes, again). At the risk of stating the bleeding obvious, for anyone who has seen any of Haneke's films, 71 Fragments is another thought-provoking and predominantly (though not entirely) bleak affair, and should probably be avoided by anyone seeking mindless thrills more typically offered at your local multiplex. Here Haneke is at his most innovative (structurally and visually), weaving together (although hardly seamlessly, with the film's stark, blank screen inter-scene cutting) a string of apparently unrelated (and short) scenes featuring (among others) an emotionally distant married couple, a pair of foster parents, a homeless Romanian immigrant youth and a disaffected student, and whilst the film's narrative meeting point and denouement can be seen coming some way off (and is foretold by Haneke's opening intertitles) it is nonetheless brilliantly done.

Haneke intercuts his story with real-life (matter of fact) TV news coverage of various global conflicts of the time, including those in Somalia, Haiti, Northern Ireland, Turkey, Lebanon and, most prominently, the wars in former Yugoslavia, in order to show how we have become largely inured to such violent and tragic news items, a by-product of his theme of modern societal alienation and breakdown. Of course, his cinematic style of static (and often extended) shots and absence of music (though not stifling, urban background noise, which is used to great effect here) merely accentuates such feelings of muted disaffection - as his subject matter takes in everything from estranged families, numbed marital relationships, foster parenting, immigration and multiculturalism, the omnipresence of TV, ageing and health, the solace of religion and society's increasingly corrupting influence on youth (in a brilliant scene in which young Romanian Marian Radu swivels a magazine rack to reveal, side-by-side, hardcore porn and Donald Duck comics). Indeed, many of these themes were to be revisited by Haneke (for me, probably even more effectively) in his later, and structurally similar, film, Code Unknown.

Acting-wise, Haneke has once again assembled an impressive array of first-time performers and more established multi-national, though predominantly Austrian and German, acting talent - a number of whom would go on to work again with the director in his later films. For me, particularly impressive in 71 Fragments are the two film debutants - Lukas Miko as the disaffected student Max and Gabriel Cosmin Urdes' remarkable performance as Romanian immigrant Marian Radu (in a performance which is another testimony to Haneke's ability to coax incredible turns from acting novices, as he did so effectively in The White Ribbon).

Although 71 Fragments is undoubtedly a sombre look at modern society's ills, Haneke's film is not entirely without hope, and once again the director embodies such hope in his youngest characters, in this case a tough immigrant kid ('I heard that people are nice to children here') and a young foster child, whose inherent sense of child-like innocence are poignantly conjured up in the form of Disney cartoon characters and frolicking seals (at the zoo), respectively.

For me, 71 Fragments is not quite up with Haneke's very best work, but is still an innovative, thought-provoking and engaging film.
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71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance [DVD]
71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance [DVD] by Michael Haneke (DVD - 2009)
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