Saturday, March 20, 2010


Scraps of reviews, the blurb on the disk, these suggest that Michael Haneke’s Caché is ‘about’ France and Algeria, or the general guilt of the ‘bobos,’ or both. This must literally be the case, although these themes take on full meaning only when connected with what I suppose must be the other most explicit theme of the film: childhood, understood as a condition in which the capacity to hurt others and accumulate guilt far outstrips self-awareness. The movie also struck me, in a refreshing sense, as a plea for the power of literature, although perhaps it is best simply to say art. By this I mean that, in a sense, the ‘argument’ of the film is that the simple—and within the narrative, never explained—act of recording and presenting, is more than sufficient to generate change. Presentation enforces responsibility, which is then amplified by denial. This is demonstrated most of all through the mysterious tapes and messages, but also repeatedly in other ways, for instance by revelations at a dinner party, or when Majid’s son confronts Georges at work. It is no doubt not simply incidental that both Georges and Anne work literally in the culture industry—she in publishing, he in television—profiting from the success and labor of others, but not themselves involved in production. My impulse is to read the two characters as caught basically in the same trap, although clearly Georges is more disconnected. Certainly one of the more emotionally grueling movies I have recently seen.

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