One of contemporary cinema’s most original, provocative, and uncompromising filmmakers, Austrian auteur Michael Haneke dares viewers to stare into the void of modern existence. With his first three theatrical features, The Seventh Continent, Benny’s Video, and 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance—a trilogy depicting a coldly bureaucratic society in which genuine human relationships have been supplanted by a deep-seated collective malaise—Haneke established the rigorous visual style and unsettling themes that would recur throughout his work. Exploring the relationship among consumerism, violence, mass media, and contemporary alienation, these brilliant, relentlessly probing films open up profound questions about the world in which we live while refusing the false comfort of easy answers.
Michael Haneke turns the unflinching gaze of the camera back on itself in this provocative, profoundly disturbing study of emotional disconnection in the age of mass-media saturation. Benny (a frighteningly affectless Arno Frisch), the teenage son of wealthy, disengaged parents, finds release in the world of violent videos—an obsession that leads him to create his own monstrous work of real-life horror. Layering screens within screens and frames within the filmic frame, Benny’s Video is a coolly postmodern, metacinematic labyrinth in which the boundaries between actual and mediated violence become terrifyingly indistinguishable.
The day-to-day routines of a seemingly ordinary Austrian family begin to take on a sinister complexion in Michael Haneke’s chilling portrait of bourgeois anomie giving way to shocking self-destruction. Inspired by a true story, the director’s first theatrical feature finds him fully in command of his style, observing with clinical detachment the spiritual emptiness of consumer culture—and the horror that lurks beneath its placid surfaces. The Seventh Continent builds to an annihilating encounter with the televisual void that powerfully synthesizes Haneke’s ideas about the link between violence and our culture of manufactured emotion.
The simultaneously random and interconnected nature of modern existence comes into harrowing focus in the despairing final installment of Michael Haneke’s trilogy. Seventy-one intricate, puzzlelike scenes survey the routines of a handful of seemingly unrelated people—including an undocumented Romanian boy living on the streets of Vienna, a couple who are desperate to adopt a child, and a college student on the edge—whose stories collide in a devastating encounter at a bank. The omnipresent drone of television news broadcasts in 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance underscores Haneke’s vision of a numb, dehumanizing world in which emotional estrangement can be punctured only by the shock of sudden violence.
DIRECTOR-APPROVED THREE-BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
- High-definition digital masters, supervised by director Michael Haneke, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks
- New interview with actor Arno Frisch
- New interview with film historian Alexander Horwath
- Interviews from 2005 with Haneke
- Documentary about Haneke’s career featuring interviews with Haneke and actors Juliette Binoche, Isabelle Huppert, and Jean-Louis Trintignant
- Deleted scenes from Benny’s Video
- New English subtitle translations
- PLUS: An essay by novelist John Wray
New cover by Eric Skillman