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Michael [DVD]

3.8 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Michael Fuith, David Rauchenberger, Christine Kain
  • Directors: Markus Schleinzer
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: German
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: Artificial Eye
  • DVD Release Date: 28 May 2012
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 70,877 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

An impressive debut Time Out

This acclaimed Austrian drama focuses on five months in the life of paedophile who keeps a 10-year-old boy locked in his basement.

A protégé of Michael Haneke, Markus Schleinzer's "Michael" is a triumph of uneasy cinema. With an unorthodox level of restraint, the director tells the story of a dull office drone who keeps a kidnapped young boy locked in his house.

Despite its subversive edge, "Michael" successfully drains the shock out of a frightening premise and instead delivers a keen observational thriller. From its opening minutes, "Michael" reveals its alarming plot with a patient, naturalistic atmosphere.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Format: DVD
Michael walks into his house with some groceries, cooks a meal and sets a table for 2. In the basement, Michael opens a door into a dark room, a boy appears. The boy is Wolfgang, they eat, wash up, watch a bit of television and go to bed.

This is a daily routine for what appears to be a one-parent family, living in Vienna, Austria. Director Markus Schleinzer zooms in on Michael's life, he is single and works in an insurance firm, he has a mother, a sister and a brother. Michael takes Wolfgang to the zoo, they celebrate Christmas, hold hands as they walk the streets, play games and watch tv. All seemingly normal.

Wolfgang is 10 years old, but Michael is not in fact the boys father. Wolfgang has been imprisoned by Michael, a 35-year old paedophile. Schleinzer resists any moralising, and he holds back from showing anything explicit, but shares the nightmare of Wolfgang's abuse through suggestion. Our minds fill in the gaps, assisting in reinforcing Michael and Wolfgangs `relationship' which only increases the tension. Michael's all too believable scenario could be happening anywhere, he could easily be your neighbour, or a colleague in work, and you would never know who he truly is.

Often it is Michael who is the boy, unable and unwilling to handle adult responsibilities, and all too ready to just close the door when he can't handle it. In one particularly disturbing scene, Michael re-enacts a scene from a film in front of Wolfgang, who is unimpressed. For a split second, their roles are reversed. Wolfgangs imprisonment accelerates his journey to adulthood, while Michael becomes the child.

No matter how humane Michael was portrayed, your attention is always focused on Wolfgangs ordeal.
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Format: DVD
Sometimes I wonder at why I decide to watch certain films and this falls into that particular category. It is about Michael (Michael Fuith) who has kidnapped ten year old Wolfgang (David Rauchenberger), he keeps him locked in a sound proofed room with uber brilliant security in his basement. By day he is a mealy mouthed insurance sales man at a local call centre, then at night he turns into a sort of special uncle / step father to his captive. He acts like he is the father and goes through the rigours of everyday domesticity with his victim as if he were playing out a normal role, like setting the table for dinner and doing the washing up.

Poor Wolfgang is clearly traumatised by the whole thing but is sort of resigned to playing along, probably in the hope of less brutal treatment. We never get to see the actual abuse, but this is none the less powerful for it, perhaps because we are left to fill in the gaps, it appears worse, if that was actually possible. The abuse is also psychological and sometimes I felt that was actually worse than the nightly incursions. I was in a constant state of anxiety whilst watching this. However, I was hooked from the word go but I also wanted it to be over, but paradoxically when it ended I wanted to know more; I am so hard to please.

Writer and director Markus Schleinzer has made an original and provoking film. The acting by the two main actors is brilliant especially David Rauchenberger, who was utterly convincing. Michael also watches violent porn and that gives him ideas too which though disgusting actually helped to break up the tension a couple of times.
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This film is not a night's entertainment. It is certainly not to edify. It serves another purpose really - to see inside the day to day life of an ordinary man living an extraordinary life i.e. keeping a 10 year old boy locked in a prison in his basement to supply his sexual and emotional needs. The emotional aspect of it has to be taken into account, as that in fact constitutes the bulk of the film. The sexual aspect is only hinted at (for obvious reasons) and is done without causing offense. The director had widely consulted experts in the field and had the boys' parents on board the whole time.
It is said that evil is cold. It is also quite boring. This man is portrayed as a quite ordinary boring clerk at an insurance company. He gets some interest from women - one he rejects, the other he accepts. Nobody suspects anything is wrong. No one suspects that he is not quite right. To the public he is pleasant if not the life of the party. Yet at home he is very clever and manipulative. He is trying to create some sort of normal family life in the most extraordinary situation which he has created i.e. having a Christmas and celebrating birthdays. Even the boy finds the whole thing bizarre.
What comes across very effectively in the film is just how dull such strange situations can be and I find a parallel with workers in concentration camps who accepted the most brutal system as just a normal working day. One thinks of Denis Nielson the Muswell Hill murderer who was killing young men and propping them up at the dinner table. He too was quite a boring unassuming clerk, unremarked on by others.
The man feels nothing for the boy either. He cannot I suppose. When the boy gets sick his only response is to go and dig a grave in anticipation not bring him to a doctor.
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