Movies.ie takes a look back at the career of the director who is three for three at the European Film awards and has his name on probably the best parody account on Twitter at the moment (@Michael_Haneke)
Last week, the European Film Awards fell in love with Michael Haneke’s latest film, Amour, which walked away with the awards for European Actor, European Actress, European Film and European Director. As well as this, Amour won the coveted Palme D’Or at the 65th Cannes Film Festival this year and has been selected as the Austrian entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 85th Academy Awardsin 2013. Michael Haneke began his career in TV in 1974 and made his feature film debut after 21 years working in the TV industry with The Seventh Continent in 1989. The Seventh Continent follows the final years of an Austrian family who apparently committed suicide without reason. The film is reported to be based on a news article that Haneke read. The film was awarded Bronze Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival and the prize for Best Application of Music and Sound in Film at the Ghent International Film Festival. The Seventh Continent laid the foundations for the bold and violent style that audiences would come to associate with Michael Haneke.
After a brief return to TV, Haneke released the controversial Benny’s Video, which served to cement the director as one to watch. Haneke’s 1994 film, 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance, proved that he was a director willing to take chances. 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance consists of 71 scenes that revolve around a person who has recently moved away from their home, a lonely old man, a college student and a couple that has just adopted a daughter. The film has a fragmented narrative, and scenes often run concurrently through the film.
Funny Games was the story of two psychotic young men who take a mother, father, and son hostage in their vacation cabin and force them to play sadistic ‘games’ with one another for their own amusement. Released in 1997 in German, Haneke remade the film for the US market in 2008. The remake starred Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Michael Pitt and Brady Corbett. Roth later commented that making the film disturbed him so much that he couldn’t watch it.
Michael Haneke’s greatest success to date came with his 2001 film, The Piano Teacher. Starring Isabelle Huppert and Benoît Magimel, the film tells the story of a middle aged woman and a much younger man who develop a mutual and potentially destructive obsession with one another. The Piano Teacher premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and won the second highest honour at the festival – The Grand Prix – as well as winning Best Actor and Best Actress for Huppert and Magimel.
Michael Haneke’s second film to compete for the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival was 2009’s The White Ribbon. The film is set in pre World War I Germany, and follows a serious of strange and mysterious events that take place in a small village. The White Ribbon won the Palme D’Or at Cannes in 2009 and the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. The White Ribbon was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 82nd Academy Awards, but lost out to The Secret in Their Eyes.
Amour, Michael Haneke’s most recent film, was released in Ireland on November 16th and tells the story of a couple in their eighties whose bond of love is sorely tested when one of them falls ill. Michael Haneke holds a prestigious place in film history as one of the few directors to have won the Palme D’Or at Cannes twice and has won at the European Film Awards for Hidden, The White Ribbon and now, Amour. Movies.ie now turns it over to you; which is your favourite film from the director whose work is always challenging and always worthwhile?