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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?
I saw this film last night and I found it very inspirational. I adore Haneke and the subject matter he chooses. For me this was completely gripping from the beginning. I loved the clarity of the scenes and the honest depiction of the various characters was chilling in parts. There is so much packed in this film I came away full of ideas. Two scenes stick in my head. The first is a scene at a kitchen table where a man tells a woman he loves her. I found it very realistic and its portrayal of this married couple was for me brutal but unflinching in its directness about the lives that we lead and the cages we build for ourselves. The second scene is an amazing shot of a character playing table tennis against an automatic opponent. It's a great shot. It's a shot that says so much. As it continues we as a viewer concentrate more on the character's face and what is written on it. Pain, anguish, fear and despair. A man so locked onto a path that he realises (perhaps in this scene) he is no longer able to return to normality. I waited for him to become exhausted but he never does and Haneke cuts the scene with him still playing, hoping perhaps the machine will break but not able to control what now controls him. As far as I know he may have gone on for hours more. A superb insight into a character's psyche encapsulated in one shot. A shocking ending rounds off a well constructed film that tries to explain why some of these events happen and does so in a thought-provoking way. There is never a dull moment in this film and I would recommend it to anyone as essential viewing. The film speaks for itself.
Before Austrian film director Michael Haneke got well-recognized and
appreciated in the international film circuit with such films as "Code
Unknown", "Time of the Wolf" and "The Piano Teacher" (all of which were
made in France and shown in Cannes), he already made his mark with a
number of films made in his native Austria, one of which is this film
called "71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance"(1994). This work is the
third installment in the director's "glaciation trilogy" (the other two
being "The Seventh Continent" and "Benny's Video"), thus called because
of the central theme of the fine line between barbarism and civility in
modern urban life being completely, hopelessly blurred. The "barrier"
has been broken, so to speak.
As the title suggests, the film consists of 71 "fragments" or vignettes, seemingly random, unrelated and mundane, of various characters going through the motions and vagaries of daily existence in urban Austria. But one can sense that this only seems to be so, as the film's prologue suggests that this is the event that will loom over the succeeding "fragments". And that is, the 1993 Christmas Eve reckless shooting done by a 19-year-old student named only as Maximillian B. inside a bank and on the streets, before eventually shooting himselfone that is purportedly based on a real-life incident.
No explanations or back-stories are provided to the characters and their situations being shown "episodically" on the screen (a Romanian boy refugee, a bank delivery man, an old pensioner, a childless couple and, of course, the student himself). More often than not, a specific fragment is abruptly interrupted or ended by a black fade-out (an alienating technique Haneke once again utilized in the equally visceral and demanding "Code Unknown"). Some fragments happen for not more than a minute, while some last for as long as five or even eight minutes (notably the scene where the student practices ping-pong tennis facing an automated opponent and the scene where the old pensioner argues with his daughter over the phone, both of which vividly displaying a whole gamut of simmering emotions without ever resorting to histrionics). Even reinforcing the clinical, cold approachfor which Haneke is really knownis the utter lack of an accompanying soundtrack and the wordlessness of some scenes.
The sense of dread is punctuated by the ever-present television (as is the case in the two other films in the trilogy), from where a specific world news is being broadcast (like the ethnic war in Somalia and the child abuse charges against pop star Michael Jackson). This is as if to suggest that the looming event foreboded at the film's start is itself to become a subject of a TV news coverage which, albeit small in scale when compared to the news indicated above, is nevertheless not without a lasting cost to the human lives involved, physically, emotionally and psychologically. Having said this, how has the line separating civility and barbarism come to be completely violated in this thought-provoking film?
The trigger shooting perpetrated by the young student, which serves to be the film's denouement, appears to have been done for no apparent reason at all. It's senseless killing in its purest meaning (which arguably is the underlying essence of the middle-class family's suicide in "The Seventh Continent" and the teenage boy's videotaped murder of the girl in "Benny's Video"). And this is what makes the act all the more chilling. It's as if to suggest that such a self-destructive act is inherent in everyone of us, if not what makes up our essence, waiting only to be brought to the surface by a seemingly random and inconsequential spate of events (in "71 Fragments'" case, it's to be rooted in the student's lack of enough cash to pay for his car gas).
And when the "event" does finally happen, rather than to serve as an important food-for-thought, it's sadly reduced to no more than a piece of media sensation, regarded as the hot "news of the day", focusing more on "what" happened than on "why" did it happen. The alarming incident thus becomes another piece of media entertainment, to be savored by mass consumers who always crave for what is sensational and controversial, without ever thinking of its deep-rooted incitations and implications. (This is a thought which Haneke is to delve full-blown in "Funny Games", both the Austrian and American versions, though I really prefer the first one.)
If in Polish auteur Krzysztof Kieslowski's world, chance incidents and fateful encounters are all part of a grand design to convey deep layers of human emotional truths (like in the truly majestic "Three Colors" trilogy), in Haneke's (or at least in the world of "71 Fragments"), such randomness is to be put in order by an inherent barbarism that's only barely creeping out of the human psyche.
An excellent movie that took my breath away. Haneke forces us to view television like we view film. He has no answers but throws us many questions. One of many things this movie shows us is how we stop to listen to the violence the news presents for us every day. We has almost come to the point that we need the films storytelling to get involved, but even then do we act?
After watching Der Siebente Kontinent and Benny's Video in rather rapid
succession, it took me an inexplicably long time to get around to this,
the third in Michael Haneke's Glaciation Trilogy, the director's
exploration of isolation and alienation in modern society.
Following the unrelated stories of an array of everyday Austrians, 71 Fragmente einer Chronologie des Zufalls explores the weeks immediately before a bank shooting that leaves four, including the gunman, dead.
A written introduction tells us the eventual outcome of the film's events, leading us immediately to conclude that the climactic crescendo to which we will build is not so much the film's subject as a means by which to explain it. What follows is a ninety minute procession of apparently unrelated stories unfolding before us, detailing the lives of everyday people. From a lonely old man to a couple fostering an aloof child, a border hopping street urchin to an austere and religious security guard and his wife, the film covers many lives and relationships. The transitions between these are marked by a black screen, with occasional footage of news stories interjected throughout. These show us the chaos and anarchy of the characters' world, bitesize glimpses into everyday horrors. Perhaps the only discernible thing connecting them is the mire of insanity which occupies their television screens, something best remembered for later. Each miniature story is compelling and interesting, a fine achievement given the limited screen time each gets with such an array of characters to be explored. Some, of course, engender more interest than others, the old man and student characters two which I found myself particularly drawn to. Haneke, unsurprisingly, constructs long and unconventional shots, beautiful in their individuality. An early morning ritual scene recalls Der Siebente Kontinent, the camera's focus on actions rather than faces an important technique in establishing the life of this particular family. A long and winding scene featuring the elderly man on the phone to his daughter is, though entirely banal and mundane, one of the film's strongest moments, its ability to so simply yet comprehensively detail a character quite wonderful. Though one might argue that the film appears to go in no clear direction for most of its running time, this is a clear part of its slowly unfolding eventual plan. It is only in the last ten minutes of the film that we see anything more than a fly-on-the-wall documentary of regular lives and are introduced to the film's true message: one that is impactful, subtle, and the perfect finale for a trilogy that delightfully explores its chosen theme.
Creating portraits of a wide number of characters, each more intimate than many films' main characters, 71 Fragmente einer Chronologie des Zufalls is a very fine final act in a very fine trilogy. Just as subtle, removed, and non-judgmental as its predecessors, this is a comprehensive and thought-provoking social commentary which will doubtlessly benefit from multiple viewings, perhaps even more so than its cinematic siblings.
If you're looking for something happy, uplifting, and fun then steer
clear of this movie. If you're looking for something easy and simple
then steer clear of this movie. If you're looking for something that
you can watch with half a brain then avoid this movie like the plague.
71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance is an experimental film from
visionary mastermind Michael Haneke. The film is 71 different scenes
that highlight small tidbits of the lives a seemingly random collection
of people. News clips of war and Michael Jackson are spliced into the
film as well, creating a disjointed and difficult narrative that in
some ways all ties together, but in other ways stays loose and
frivolous. The interpretation of this kind of narrative style is at the
If you're at all familiar with Haneke's work then you'll know not to expect anything straightforward going into this film. If you go into this film knowing nothing about Haneke then may God have mercy on your soul. Not really, just be prepared. This is not an easy film to follow being that there seems to not be much to follow. The majority of the film spends its time laying down the various puzzle pieces with very little rhyme or reason to the distribution of the pieces. Towards the end of the film the pieces begin coming together for a fairly anticlimactic ending that reflects the perpetual sadness of a world full of violence, hardship, neglect, and hatred. You'll never miss Haneke's macabre cynicism in any of this films, and especially not this one.
It's difficult for me to form a steadfast opinion on this film because it is so out there and so difficult to fully comprehend. As always, I respect Michael Haneke for the being the true genius he is. He's created something wholly original and intuitive here, I just can't quite place what it is. There are a lot of lines going in different directions here and they never seem quite seem to meet up. This film challenges the ideas of your typical film narrative and I have to give it kudos for taking such risks and ending up with something that works more or less. 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance isn't a film you just watch, it's something you experience.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is for me the most challenging of all the Haneke films, even more
so than the similarly-structured Code Unknown.
After a few viewings, though, I get the impression that most of the film is spent observing the processes by which human beings (our work, home life, and beliefs) are rendered commodities that serve the juggernaut of Western Capitalism (Haneke implicitly gives us permission to assign society itself a characterization, since all of his films feature an oppressive social milieu that itself acts as a character).
Some characters become commodities successfully, but lose some of their identities in doing so. Other characters cannot be capitalized upon, fail as commodities, and are thusly rejected by the juggernaut or voluntarily remove themselves from it.
And in the end, television processes the whirlwind of senseless violence that ends the narrative proper into a "consumable" (Haneke uses a translation of this word in speaking about how television renders human experience) little nugget of infotainment squeezed between other already-digested "fragment" events.
My favorite moment in perhaps any of Haneke's films is the credit sequence, played out over traffic sounds but no music, where a young refugee from Hungary (himself becoming "cargo") rides on the back of a freight truck along a highway into the vortex of Vienna amidst other industrious motorists. The the long, calm shot ends as the truck drives past bright McDonald's and Coca-cola signs, welcoming us into the land of image and consumption.
So anyway, I could be totally missing the point of this movie, but based on my familiarity with the Haneke universe, this is how it strikes me.
Long Live Cinema
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This strikes me as Haneke's least successful film. Still, it's more than worthwhile, and I would still nearly call it great. Several different, seemingly random stories are mixed together. We watch vignettes of varying length. Among them are the stories of a homeless Romanian boy who has illegally crossed into Austria, a lovingly married couple adopting a new foster child, another married couple at odds with each other, an old man starved for attention, and a group of frustrated college students. We are told at the beginning that one of these students will murder three people at a bank, and we immediately realize that at least some of the other people we have met will be at that bank. I'm not sure how I feel about this technique; I'm certainly a bit conflicted. And I'm not 100% sure what I'm supposed to get out of this all. I guess it's always worth being reminded of the unpredictability of life and that at any moment we could disappear from this Earth. Interspersed between the various stories there also appear long clips of the evening news, where various atrocities and tragedies are reported in a manner that desensitizes its audience to them. And the climactic event pops up right alongside them. Which of course reminds us also that these atrocities happen to real people, a fact that's so easily forgotten when watching the 10 o'clock news. Structurally, the film is brilliant. It is similar to what Altman was doing with Nashville. Haneke would improve upon this film with Code Unknown, which stands as my favorite of his films and perhaps as my favorite film of the current decade.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As I've seen Haneke's movie "Benny's Video" before (with one scene I
cannot recommend to non-hart-hearted people), I was a little bit warned of
this director, who really manages to torture his public.
You may know his more established movie "Funny Games"; believe me, for a Haneke movie, this is a real Hollywood soap opera!!!
The movie seems to start quite calm and there is almost no action in it (which is usually not a good pre-condition for me to cherish a movie); but slightly and subliminal you find yourself confronted with many different curriculum vitae of persons, maybe not like you & me but like many of your elder neighbours and peoples you meet on the streets everyday.
I don't want to try to describe, how their life is going, how they've lost their prospects & dreams of their life; but sometime during the movie you might recognize, that one of these persons could be you (maybe in 10 years, after having a job, getting more settled, maybe set up a family etc.) and this is very frightening!
To say it shortly: You might get afraid of becoming like them!!!
The finish of the movie is very sharp; most of these persons you were "pleased" to get to know during this movie are getting killed by an amok student 2 days before xmas and the only thing I & maybe you could think about that: What a lucky day for them !!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It is a tough choice between "Das Schloß" and "71 Fragmente einer
Chronologie des Zufalls" although I have not seen most of his
non-German works. This movie here is over 20 years old and the last and
weakest chapter from a trilogy of films that Haneke made about
violence, young delinquents and young victims (the first). His film
here also has lots of social commentary, mostly about the War in
Kosovo, which was a big subject at that time. The acting is strong as
usual, especially from the old guy, in Haneke's films, but somehow his
bleak and atmospheric approach (the one he always has) did not really
do too much for me here. I wasn't particularly interested in the
characters and I did not really care enough for them to be really sad
at the end I guess. But it is also Haneke's usual strategy to go out
with an unhappy end and that is not a problem at all. it actually gives
several of his works a more realistic and authentic touch.
This movie here is the only one from the trilogy that was not submitted by Austria to the Oscars, so it is fitting I guess that there were no further installments and that Haneke pursued a career about French-language films too. The first 75 minutes of "71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance" just weren't good enough to sit through and watch the thrilling last 15 minutes. Also the way Haneke divided the film into fragments with brief black-screens as intermissions did not add too much for me. I personally hoped (and thought from the IMDb rating) that this would be a better film. I do not recommend watching it. Thumbs down. Quite a shame as I quite like the filmmaker's approach and totally enjoyed several of his more recent works.
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