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The Seventh Continent (1989)
"Der siebente Kontinent" (original title)

7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 6,518 users  
Reviews: 39 user | 34 critic

A European family who plan on escaping to Australia, seem caught up in their daily routine, only troubled by minor incidents. However, behind their apparent calm and repetitive existence, they are actually planning something sinister.

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Cast

Cast overview:
Birgit Doll ...
Anna Schober
...
Georg Schober
Leni Tanzer ...
Evi Schober
Udo Samel ...
Alexander
Silvia Fenz ...
Optiker Kundin
Robert Dietl
Elisabeth Rath ...
Lehrerin
Georges Kern
Georg Friedrich ...
Störungsdienst der Post
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Storyline

A European family who plan on escaping to Australia, seem caught up in their daily routine, only troubled by minor incidents. However, behind their apparent calm and repetitive existence, they are actually planning something sinister.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

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Details

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Release Date:

14 April 1993 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The Seventh Continent  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

It is nearly a third of the way into the film before the viewer gets a clear, unobstructed view of co-star Birgit Doll's or Dieter Berner's faces. See more »

Quotes

Anna Schober: Did you like the Mickey your uncle Alex brought you? He loves you very much. You know that? Me too. Do you feel alone sometimes? Do you love dad and me?
[Evi hugs her mother]
Anna Schober: Okay, time to say your prayers.
See more »

Connections

Followed by 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

The Power of Love
(uncredited)
Written by Wolfgang Detmann, Gunther Mende, Jennifer Rush and Mary Susan Applegate
Performed by Jennifer Rush
See more »

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User Reviews

Burns its way into your psyche
25 August 2003 | by (Vancouver, B.C.) – See all my reviews

Arguably, no greater cinematic interpreter of alienation exists in the world today than Austrian director Michael Haneke. Haneke shows us characters whose response to the world around them has deadened, people who have forgotten how to feel, how to love, how to care. The Seventh Continent, the first film of the trilogy that, with Benny's Video (1992) and 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance (1994), depicts what Haneke has called "my country's emotional glaciation." Based on a true story of the disintegration of a middle class Austrian family, the film has little plot, only incident and observation. Divided into three parts and shot in episodic fragments, as in his 2002 film Code Unknown, each fragment is tenuously connected by fadeouts in which scenes start and end abruptly. A mood of banality is established early in an extended sequence in which a car moves through a car wash showing all the details of detergent sprays, high-pressure washers, and rotating brushes. At the end of the car wash is a travel poster beckoning tourists to visit Australia with a peaceful scene of sand and water, a motif that is repeated periodically during the film.

The Schobers, husband George (Dieter Berner), wife Anna (Birgit Doll), and daughter Eva (Leni Tanzer), are the happily married family living next door. George is an engineer and Anna an optician. Eva is a bright child of about eight with deep, expressive eyes. The family moves through their morning ritual with precision -- brushing their teeth, feeding the fish, and eating breakfast with little conversation or emotional interaction. The camera avoids their faces, focusing on mundane objects such as a bowl of cereal, an alarm clock, a fish tank, a package of congealed broccoli. This preoccupation with objects underscores the lack of connection between the characters and the things they have acquired. We get our first hint that something is not right when Eva pretends to her teacher that she has lost her eyesight. Anna questions her about the incident, promising not to harm her if she tells the truth but, when Eva admits to the lie, suddenly slaps her across the face ignoring the fact that she is a very troubled little girl. It is from here that the cracks begin to widen.

Depicting ritualistic actions like counting of money at a supermarket, the distractions of television, the meaninglessness of work, the film reflects the powerlessness and isolation of people in modern society. Haneke chronicles a family enslaved to the structures they have created, operating in a morass of emotional vacuity. The first hour may seem slow but it builds considerable tension until it reaches a shattering climax. Little by little the family disengages. George quits his job and writes letters to his parents hinting of something dark about to happen. In the absence of a spiritual core, without the possibility of meaningful action, the family sinks deeper into an abyss, unraveling and discarding the tightly woven structures of their life. Similar in theme to Todd Haynes' 1995 film Safe but with three times the power, The Seventh Continent is a ruthlessly intelligent film that burns its way into your psyche, leaving an indelible mark that will forever haunt your dreams.


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