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"My Family Friend": Michael Haneke and the Dangers of TV

  • MUBI
Mubi's retrospective "Empowering the Spectator: The Films of Michael Haneke" runs October 17 – December 16, 2019 in the United Kingdom.Alexander (Udo Samel) has his eyes glued to a TV screen when he recounts, halfway through Michael Haneke’s The Seventh Continent, his mother’s last words: “How would it be if we had a monitor instead of a head, where we could see our thoughts?” Released in 1989, The Seventh Continent marked Haneke’s feature film debut, but not the end of a career the Austrian had amassed during the previous fifteen years he’d spent writing and directing TV productions. Take his two-part 1979 television movie Lemmings as a single project, and the twenty-three films Haneke has directed since 1974 are somewhat evenly split: twelve features and eleven TV movies—the last of which, an adaptation of his theatrical staging of Mozart’s Così fan tutte, only came out in 2013. But the relationship
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The Seventh Continent

After many years directing films for television, Funny Games director, Michael Haneke, made his debut with what is the first in the trilogy of his “emotional glaciation” films. 1989’s The Seventh Continent makes stylistically and thematically explicit the nature of his filmmaking in what is a work which, as you can glean from the trilogy linkage, a bleak and haunting piece. This “based on a true story” film places a family as the subject of a subdued and paradoxically pointed social commentary drama, where the mundanity of modern life proves insufferable as the film breaks to be a familial and societal horror story.

Husband Georg (Dieter Berner), wife Anna (Birgit Doll) and daughter Eva (Leni Tanzer) are the family unit living a middle-class existence in suburban Austria. Their lives are that of conformity, aided by the usual trappings of modern living. The parents both work and Eva goes to school.
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