Sunday, October 25, 2009

Haneke and Visconti

These are stills from Michael Haneke's 1984 TV movie Wer war Edgar Allen?, which is apparently set in the same city as Visconti's White Nights (which, like any Dostoevsky film, is the director's and not the author's; every good filmmaker finds their own Dostoevsky). Same taughtly-bent bridges, same rain, same textured walls, same dirty old river, same dirty old beds. I know that Haneke shot at least part of Edgar Allan in Venice, but it still looks like Cinecitta.

Haneke and Visconti have a lot more in common than you'd think, not least of which is the idea of the director as a privileged observer, and of the camera as a sort of education or background that allows its operators to understand the events unfolding better than the people in front of the lens (characters or actors) ever could. There's also this underlying assumption that an image imprinted on celluloid or video is inherently false and that, through the manipulation of this falseness, a director can create images that, though still in no way true, can lead the audience to understand some sort of truth. Not quite "the lie that tells the truth," as Cocteau once called himself, but "the falsehood that may lead somewhere."

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