“A feature film is 24 lies per second at the service of truth, or at the service of the attempt to find the truth.”—Michael Haneke.
Michael Haneke, the Austrian film director and screenwriter whose films offer a deeply personal examination of varying social issues, has revealed a selection of his favourite films.
Haneke, who has regularly made feature films in French, German, and English, made his emphatic direction debut in 1989 with the release of The Seventh Continent which was inspired by a true story of an Austrian middle-class family that committed suicide.
From there, the filmmaker went on to earn critical acclaim with the release of his French erotic psychological drama The Piano Teacher, a project which later claimed victory in the Grand Prix at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival and propelled him to international recognition.
“I’m lucky enough to be able to make films and so I don’t need a psychiatrist,” Haneke once said. “I can sort out my fears and all those things with my work. That’s an enormous privilege. That’s the privilege of all artists, to be able to sort out their unhappiness and their neuroses in order to create something.”
He added: “Films that are entertainments give simple answers but I think that’s ultimately more cynical, as it denies the viewer room to think. If there are more answers at the end, then surely it is a richer experience.”
After winning Best Director Award at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival for his film Caché, Haneke’s creative spark continued in prolific form when he directed the 2007 remake of his controversial film Funny Games and followed it up with The White Ribbon, a film which won the prestigious Palme d’Or award.
“I give the spectator the possibility of participating,” the director has said of his work. “The audience completes the film by thinking about it; those who watch must not be just consumers ingesting spoon-fed images. I make my films because I’m affected by a situation, by something that makes me want to reflect on it, that lends itself to an artistic reflection.
“I always aim to look directly at what I’m dealing with. I think it’s a task of dramatic art to confront us with things that in the entertainment industry are usually swept under the rug.”
When reflecting on films that have impacted his creative vision as part of the Sight & Sound director’s top 10 poll, Haneke namechecked the likes of Robert Bresson, Andrei Tarkovsky, Alfred Hitchcock and more as major influences.
See the full list, below.
Michael Haneke’s 10 favourite films:
- Au Hasard Balthazar – Robert Bresson, 1966.
- Lancelot of the Lake – Robert Bresson, 1974.
- The Mirror – Andrei Tarkovsky, 1975.
- Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom – Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1975.
- The Exterminating Angel – Luis Bunuel, 1962.
- The Gold Rush – Charlie Chaplin, 1925.
- Psycho – Alfred Hitchcock, 1960.
- A Woman Under the Influence – John Cassavetes, 1974.
- Germany Year Zero – Roberto Rossellini, 1948.
- L’eclisse – Michelangelo Antonioni, 1962.