28 September 2010
By post-apocalyptic-movie standards of the day, Time of the Wolf must have seemed so bleak and dire, even "realistic." But now that The Road has come along and outbleaked Haneke, I can instead look at this as more of a sociological character study, a look at groups of people and how they interact in a crisis and in the ensuing chaos and reordering -- which The Road definitely isn't.
I admit that I've only seen a handful of Michael Haneke films -- and neither version of Funny Games -- but his view of humanity never seems quite as hopeless as I expect it to. There's always some struggle forward, some semblance of decency or community, even if it starts to feel futile at times. I think he's less interested in long-term nihilism like declaring humanity a lost cause or that cruelty and suffering are eternal so much as he is exploring the ramifications of cruelty. His films depict terrible actions as sudden, quick bursts of violence, and then the story continues through the ripples that follow. His stories are counterpoint to the consequence-free violence and savagery of most films. Humans are resilient; they can bounce back from almost anything, no matter how horrific -- but it takes time, and we're never the same as before.
I want to go on with details and examples, but the truth is I'll be late for work if I try. So instead, if you're reading this, just go watch this or other Haneke films and see for yourself. That is to say, in the words of LeVar Burton, "Don't take my word for it!"