Strange events happen in a small village in the north of Germany during the years just before World War I, which seem to be ritual punishment. The abused and suppressed children of the villagers seem to be at the heart of this mystery.
Georges and Anne are an octogenarian couple. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, also a musician, lives in Britain with her family. One day, Anne has a stroke, and the couple's bond of love is severely tested.
Haneke has an amazing clarity about people's alienation
This film is the last in Michael Haneke's trilogy about alienation called "Vergletscherung die Gefühle", and it ends in a violent climax which is a result of the previous fragments that Haneke presents to us. In this film Haneke developed a style that is very reminiscient of his 2000 film "Code Inconnu". It features rather short episodes, and within each episode there is scarcely editing or camera movement. Each episode is divided by a second's black screen, and Haneke often interrupts and ends the episode in the middle of a person's sentence. This is a very economical style of filmmaking, and it certainly demands a lot of the viewers, because you only get the information you really need to connect this episode thematically to the others. Because this is a thematic film, and it is a brilliant, stylish, ice-cold half-misanthropic study of people's lack of ability to perform tender acts with each other. I have never seen people make love in a film by Haneke, except for the masochistic and sad attempts in "La Pianiste". Rather, Haneke shows his characters in situations where they are tired, fed up, irritated or full of hate; quite ordinary human emotions. You cannot blame Haneke for not being a positive director, for he is the only filmmaker working today who can portray and observe his characters so coldly and so unpassionately. And his project seems to be to expose our lack of love and passion for each other, but most of all our lack of ability to tell it as it is. Speak to each other and solve everything, seems to be Haneke's advice, without him really giving it. I never seem to like Haneke's characters, and that is a good thing really. Like fellow German-speaking directors Herzog and Fassbinder, Haneke seems a bit misanthropic in his characteristics. Too many directors try too hard to give characters sympathetic traits, and you just lose interest in the story. "71 Fragmente einer Chronologie des Zufalls" is quite an achievement in filmmaking, and it is a film that will stick with me forever. I will never forget because I never knew why (the incident at the end). That is how I will remember this film, and how many times in real life is "why" the only question never answered?
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