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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Guilt's Ambiguity, 23 April 2012
Nicholas Casley (Plymouth, Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Michael Haneke Anthology (10 Film Collection) [DVD] (DVD)
This is a review of the earlier ten-disc Haneke collection that includes the US version of `Funny Games' instead of `The White Ribbon'. The films are, in order, `The Seventh Continent'; `Benny's Video'; '71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance'; The Castle'; `Funny Games'; `Code Unknown'; `The Piano Teacher'; `Time of the Wolf'; `Hidden'; and `Funny Games US'. There is simply no way that one can do justice to this collection in such a short review; each film demands a lengthy essay of its own, both analysing the film itself as well as what Haneke has to say about it. Nevertheless, I will try to give a flavour of the essence of the set, as well as mentioning the main extras to be found therein.

I came relatively late to Haneke, via his `Hidden', which I judged to be the best film of 2006 (I work in a cinema). So it has been a bit of a journey for me to see his earlier oeuvre, films that are both challenging and stimulating at the same time, films that are disturbing, uncomfortable and yet altogether compelling. All the films are worth viewing until the very end, if only because of the final twists that he often introduces. In short, this man is a genius.

(However, by rights, the director states `Funny Games' should only be seen only once, in order to get the point. I followed this advice; otherwise I would have given up at twenty-four minutes, ten seconds. He says he shot an American version because he did not think the original reached its intended audience!)

From the very first film in this set, `The Seventh Continent' of 1989 (though you would never guess the year, so fresh is its content), Haneke's style is manifest: dark pauses, an indirect approach to characterisation, attention to everyday detail, and ambiguous conclusions. Later films reveal other Haneke tropes, such as superb manipulation of video, the parallel streaming of TV news with the apparent peacefulness of home life, and the lack of a music soundtrack. On the latter, Haneke says he simply loves music too much. (If I have one complaint about Haneke's films it is that he cannot claim that no animals were harmed during the filming.)

Most of the ten discs come with lengthy and immensely interesting interviews with the director, in which he argues that his films are supposed to be ambiguous, allowing the viewer to come to his or her own conclusions about the outcome and the meaning of events: "I always look for a way of telling the story that asks the viewer questions ... The judgement is up to the viewer ... giving the answer will only re-assure and calm the viewer." He also claims that guilt and how to deal with it is the underlying theme of all his films.

Other extras include an hour-long documentary, '24 Realities per Second', a portrait of Haneke filmed over several years but produced in 2004. We see him location-scouting, filming, editing. He admits to being ruthless in his work and that this comes naturally, but that otherwise he is a shy man. There is also a half-hour documentary called `Filming Haneke' where we follow the director filming `Code Unknown', a twenty-minute look at filming `Time of the Wolf', and a thirty-minute documentary on `Hidden'.

On the disc for `The Piano Teacher', Isabelle Huppert provides forty-eight minutes of commentary. This disc also includes a ten-minute interview with Elfriede Jelinek, who wrote the semi-autobiographical novel, and a twenty-minute behind-the-scenes look at post-production, showing Haneke's forensic approach to film-making. (Despite the blurb, there is unfortunately no interview with Benoit Magimel on this disc.)

When considering how many stars to give this set, I had to ask myself how I could say that I liked a film about a family committing suicide, or a boy filming someone's horrific death, or a family being violently assaulted, or a woman's destructive sexual relationship with a pupil, or a dystopian near-future in western Europe? Of the ten films here I gave individual star-markings of 4, 5, 4, 4, 2, 3, 4, 4, 5, and 2. Nevertheless, the sum of this set is more than its constituent parts, and the messages Haneke relates are so important, and the means in which he does this so admirable, that I'm going to give the set five stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb box-set, if you can handle Haneke...., 3 April 2012
Tim Kidner "Hucklebrook Hound" (Salisbury, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Michael Haneke Anthology (10 Film Collection) [DVD] (DVD)
No-one can honestly say that watching ten Michael Haneke films is a guilty pleasure. In fact, I rather dislike them and question why I actually am, when I do.

It's because I admire the man, as both a film-maker and for having the guts to make his work uncompromising and potentially uncommercial . Having studied psychology, he extends that to us via thought-provoking, often extremely disturbing but always memorable films.

Before I bought the set, I couldn't say that I'd seen any of his movies, but I had. The Piano Teacher, with Isabelle Huppert, Funny Games and Hidden, I'd all seen on Film 4 at some time. The White Ribbon (not included in this set) I'd also seen.

Now adding The Seventh Continent and Benny's Video to that list, after starting to work my way through the set, I have new admiration for this Austrian. Often taking the most potentially boring and straightforward subjects - middle-class Austrian families and their disintegration, whatever reasons or conditions that might cause that and makes us sit through their laboured anguish and pain. So, if they're so uncomfortable to watch, why did I buy the ten film anthology, for goodness sake?

One, it was cheap, second, I thought myself more worthy if I did and three, I like box-sets, especially when they cover a huge chunk of a director's, or actor's work. Whether they're good enough reasons, who knows and likewise, to those who might be considering getting it for themselves.

If you want all but his latest work in one, nicely laid out set (they open out, fan-like, in two separate cases) and/or like Haneke, then certainly, go for it. Strangely, I now want to revisit the movies of his I'd already seen, put them into context and compare them.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The suppressed madness of sane men, 6 Jan 2010
This review is from: The Michael Haneke Anthology (10 Film Collection) [DVD] (DVD)
Almost complete anthology of Haneke's works till now, except for the ultimate White Ribbon, packaged in a simple boxset.
Haneke radical poetics refers to the roots of psychic violence and delusion in human soul, so his movies have an intimate strenght of persuasion.
Best for those who think that European thought in arts and psychopathology is not dead. Not for bien pensant!.
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