The Film: The Seventh Continent (1989)
Michael Haneke’s first film, inspired by a true story of an Austrian middle class family. The first half of the film or so explores the family’s day-to day-existence and what troubles they have in their lives. The back half of the film details their strange preparations for their unusual upcoming trip. If you’re unfamiliar with the film, I wouldn’t suggest reading anything about it, as going into it cold makes for a very impacting experience.
Is It Good: Absolutely, though it’s a slow, slow burn. The first of Haneke’s feature films, it’s not nearly as actively assaulting as his later work would turn out to be, but yet it still feels like Haneke through and through. Nothing is filmed in an ordinary manner, and the entire film is constructed in a way that better serves the story than audience enjoyment. As is standard for Haneke, by watching the film you are signing up for an experience, not a piece of entertainment.
The film is haunting and disturbing for what it implies and the coldness with which it catalogs something horrific.
Is It Worth A Look:
It’s a strange movie, and not one that ever goes out of its way to reach out to the audience. If you’ve enjoyed the experience of being taken for a Haneke ride before in one of his more famous films like Funny Games, The White Ribbon, or Cache, then you owe it to yourself to check out the early stuff.
Random Anecdote: Once scene in the film involves the desecration of currency (as seen above) and Michael Haneke predicted this scene would bother more audience members than some other, more conventionally disturbing scenes. As the general crappiness of humans may suggest, he turned out to be right.