“Hidden is a breathtaking film by a masterful, formidably intelligent director.” — Jason Solomons, The Observer
Director: Michael Haneke
Running time: 117 minsFrance/Austria/Germany/Italy
Screenplay: Michael Haneke
Photography: Christian Berger
Editors: Michael Hudecek, Nadine Muse
In French with English subtitles
R16 violence, content may disturb
With: Daniel Auteuil, Juliette Binoche, Maurice Bénichou, Annie Girardot
Festivals: Cannes (In Competition) 2005
Best Director, Critics’ Prize, Cannes Film Festival 2005
There will be more videotapes and more such drawings over the course of Hidden, collectively forming a breadcrumb trail that leads Georges back to his family estate and to a long-dormant memory concerning his childhood acquaintanceship with an Algerian boy named Majid. Just what happened between Georges and Majid back then, and whether it has any bearing on Georges’ present dilemma, are two mysteries Hidden holds close to the vest well into its running time.
But if Haneke has sewn Hidden into the skin of a thriller – leading many industry pundits at this year’s Cannes Film Festival to label it the director’s most ‘accessible’ film – he’s no more interested in telling us whodunit than he is in knowing the answer himself. For the videotapes rattling Georges from his placid bourgeois existence aren’t so much one man’s nightmare made manifest as they are the embodiment of a collective guilt, of all the inhumanties to which we turn a blind eye – be it a childhood secret wished away, a dark-skinned stranger passed on the street or France itself in the long shadow cast by Algeria.
‘There’s a pun in German that I’m not sure works in English,’ Haneke said in a 2001 interview. ‘”Television is there to switch off,” meaning not only switching off the machine itself, but switching off your own mind.’ But in Hidden, television – and, by extension, our entire culture of images – is the thing that can’t be turned off. It shows up on your doorstep. It invades your dreams. And ultimately, it is the thing that exhumes a truth that has heretofore remained hidden. — Scott Foundas