4 Stars Movies

Sometimes we are the camera in Michael Haneke’s Caché (Hidden)

An art-thriller directed by Michael Haneke, of whose previous films I’ve only seen Le Pianiste (The Piano Teacher). A major theme is that of video image-making (a main character is a television host) and surveilance. The interest in video images brings to mind the films of Atom Egoyan (Calendar, Felicia’s Journey), and perhaps even the search for meaning (that may or may not even be there) in photographs in Blow Up.

The point of view of the “camera” is crucial; sometimes the image we’re watching is revealed as that of an actual video camera within the film. After we learn the first static shot is actually a film-within-the-film, we constantly suspect later static shots until the camera moves. Sometimes, we are the camera.

A digression: if the academic term for a sound heard in the fictional context of the film (as opposed to, say, the score) is “diegetic” but how does one refer to a film or video image seen by characters within a film? Movies ranging from Citizen Kane (the newsreel sequence) to Starship Troopers (the fascistic TV commercials) feature moving images in the world of the film, so there must be an academic term.

Caché famously features an enigmatic final shot, supposedly revealing a clue to a major unanswered plot point. So even though I knew to inspect it closely, and the mere location depicted obviously tells you what to look for, I still couldn’t spot it. Later, someone told me what to look for and I watched again. And sure enough, there is it, beautifully choreographed right there in plain sight. Hint: check out some action that moves from the top left of the screen down to the bottom left.

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