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Thierry van Werveke
Why is non-participation on the Pascal's wager an automatic "no" bet?
Mr. Michael Haneke begs the audience to start asking the important questions.
The film begins with a text of a news item involving a bank shooting incident in Vienna a day before Christmas eve 1993 that left three people dead with the 19-year-old assailant later found to have shot himself nearby.
What then follows is a series news broadcasts interspersed with scenes involving seemingly random characters while they go through their day-to-day existence: a Romanian refugee who illegally entered Austria seeking asylum, a soldier, an armored van security guard, a college student, a couple having trying to adopt a kid, and elderly man and his bank employee daughter.
The film is, as the title indicates (and I'll take the filmmaker's word on that), there are a total of "71 fragments" divided into segments that are separated by almost three seconds of black frames. I actually took trouble counting those (because I don't have a life) and found out that--
The different characters are shown going through mundane activities throughout the film and it gives the viewers an insight to human behaviour and the dynamic between the characters whose connection to the other charcters are more evident than some. They are also seen to be watching these same news broadcasts in their respective environments apart from the segments that solely featured these news items being played on-screen, which in a way connects almost every person in this film.
Mr. Haneke has a style all to his own. He's a master in evoking fright without necessarily having to show much, this will be apparent near the end of the film, the Haneke genius I'd say, just as gruesome. This is not one of his best work but it stands out on its own for the always-relevant commentary that he wishes to expound.
The narrative that Mr. Haneke wanted to express could only be realized through a closer scrutiny of the various fragments which eventually points to a far greater tragedy, and he also throws in a fair warning as well. The same thing could also can be said regarding the conflicts around the world. We see the news on TV, the horrific images, the drama, yet something is lacking. What were the events that led up to the tragic outcome that we all get to witness on the screen? Clearly, there are some people who know more than others and the news reporters seem not to be able to get to those people for some reason or another, it is this incompleteness that kind of detaches us, the viewers, from the horror, and there are people taking advantage of other people's silence and rendering them just as complicit to those acts of violence.
My rating: A-minus.
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