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M. Leary

Time of the Wolf

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Stef and I caught this newest feature by Haneke. Certainly my highlight of the Chicago festival (which makes it a bit of a primus inter pares situation because I caught a few excellent things). I have found it a bit difficult to write on because it covers so much territory both thematically and visually. On the one hand there is all the post-apocalyptic social critique we have in the classics (Mad Max, On the Beach, Delicatessen, etc...) and the social parable ethos of Lord of the Flies and films in that vein. But then there is also a really complex visual approach in which Haneke either strips back imagery and layers sound over it as a texture, or slips into realist mode and takes us through a few pretty intense periods of dialogue.

This will all be written up, but there is one sequence after which Stef and I just looked at each other in with our eyes raised. A man shoots a horse and we watch blood gurgle out onto the ground immediately rain starts to fall and a thunderclap cracks loudly over all of these images.

So there is this really intense chiasm:

Gunshot

blood

rain

Thunderclap

Time of the Wolf is stocked with really poetic forms such as this. So I guess in short, we could probably say that the film takes the psychological intensity of The Piano Teacher and the intentioned thoughtfulness of Code Unknown and ties them together with a fantastic mythic resolution.


"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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Well Stef actually looked more like this:

:heh_heh:


"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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I *loved* this movie. Can't talk now, though, i've got my laryngitis again.

Later gater.

-s.


In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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Hi all.

Sorry to be out of touch for so long. I've been lurking every once in a while but haven't had any real time to post. Thanks to Jeffrey for posting a couple of reviews.

I did want to jump in this discussion, though. Time of the Wolf isn't for everyone, but it's an amazing film. I'll post what I wrote up a few weeks ago for Doug C.'s site, and maybe that'll provoke some good discussion. And btw, I'm not trying to bait Jeffrey with my dig at 28 Days Later, but I do genuinely think it's hard to appreciate that film once you see what Haneke does with similar material.

***

Woo wee, this is one tough, amazing film. Haneke returns with another movie that puts the audience through a ringer. It also exposes 28 Days Later as the poser that it is. Like that inferior film, Time of the Wolf takes place after some cataclysmic event has occurred. Order has broken down, basic supplies like food and water are unavailable, and masses of people have fled the cities. Isabelle Huppert plays a mother with two children trying to survive. At first, they're on their own, which is harrowing enough. But when they join a ragtag collective, they're exposed to the true horrors of human nature.

Like other European films I've seen at the fest, Time of the Wolf is designed to shock its audience. The biggest difference is that Haneke has such extraordinary formal control that he achieves what he sets out to do. Huppert fans will be slightly disappointed, as her character is relatively minor. Rather, the early adolescent daughter (played by Anais Demoustier, I believe) is the one who assumes center stage. Confronting her own identity, she must also confront the very essence of human nature. What are we like when everything is stripped away? What are we willing to do? What is our responsibility to our family, our fellow man?

Haneke also provokes the audience with his narrative choices. There are two situations in which characters accuse someone else of a heinous crime. In one case, the audience is set up, by its empathy for certain characters, to believe the claim; in the other case, to doubt it. And yet Haneke, through elegant rhyming, forces us to grasp that truth can not be dependent on whom we like but on whether something is true. And that often is very difficult to determine. This reaches its apex in the film's final scene, an extraordinary moment in an extraordinary film, one that raises fundamental issues of sacrifice and salvation. I can't say any more without giving far too much away, but I am already anticipating the discussion when others have had a chance to see it. One thing I can say is that I was reminded of a passage from John 1: "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

I should point out one last thing. This is an extraordinarily difficult movie to watch and one that isn't for everyone. Animals are killed on screen, and terrible things are done to people as well. Nonetheless, I recommend it highly. I came out of the theater thinking I had seen a very good film. A few days later, I think it's a great one.

***

One last thing. I would be interested in hearing what Haneke would say about the spiritual implications of his movie. But I continue to think that the John 1 verse is a perfect summation of the film: formally, thematically, and spiritually.

J Robert

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Woo wee, this is one tough, amazing film. Haneke returns with another movie that puts the audience through a ringer.

Do you mean a wringer? :wink:

You know, I don't think I've ever thought about that. Of course it has to be "wringer," but I suspect I've spelled it "ringer" my whole life.

J Robert

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I guess in short, we could probably say that the film

takes the psychological intensity of The Piano Teacher and the

intentioned thoughtfulness of Code Unknown and ties them together

with a fantastic mythic resolution.

That is a great way to sum it up, although, i don't know how right you are in calling that sequence in any way "poetic." Maybe poetic like an e.e.cummings, that might be close.

Like other European films I've seen at the fest, Time of

the Wolf is designed to shock its audience. The biggest difference is that

Haneke has such extraordinary formal control that he achieves what he sets out to do.

Do you think Haneke has finally settled into a groove, and his need for shock has been tamed down a bit? Films like Funny Games and The Piano Teacher definitely carry a much harder bite with them than the later Code Unknown and now Time of the Wolf. His goal still seems to challenge the audience and almost act as a bridge between our views and our boundaries, but the means he currently employs to get his point across is much more delicate than in earlier years.

I was reminded of a passage from John 1: "The light shines in the

darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

POSSIBLE SLIGHT SPOILERS FOLLOW...

Hmmm. Are you referring to the suicide attempt? I am trying to think of

the different kinds of light in that scene. There was a physical darkness

all around the young boy, except for the fire in front of his naked body,

which would almost make your words seem as if his attempt to take his life was noble. But if i go according to that definition, then the darkness

indeed did overcome the light when the child was rescued. So i think

you must be referring to something unseen here, a light that manifests

itself outside of the realm of physicality, but honestly i cannot tell from

this film what that would be. The mere act of saving the boy at the end

surely did not deliver him from his situation. So if your Bible reference

refers to the scene at the end of the film, i guess i just don't get it.

I'm absolutely sure that there is a light that shines in the darkness, but if i were one of the masses in this picture, i know i wouldn't see it.

But speaking of light in the darkness, there are so many great outdoor

scenes involving fire and how it is captured on film that i almost fell out

of my seat a few times. Some of you already know that i love The King Is Alive for this very reason, but i think Haneke has even outdone Kristian Levring in the aspect of capturing images of the element so well. The lighter, the blazing hay, the torches, the barn set on fire... And later the approaching masses and the three torches that lead the way in...

G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S.

Although Levring had the ultimate advantage of using a digital recording device which gives a more slow and tender feel to night scenes when done the right way, Haneke pulls off a brilliant feat by making it just as stunning with standard equipment. At least, that's how it feels. Then again, i never saw The King is Alive on the big screen so perhaps i'm only mystified at the bigness of what i came away with in Wolf.

What do you all make of the haziness in the actual film footage? It is sometimes so grainy you can see only the actual dots that form the film in front of the actual picture itself. Add to that the fog in the beginning of the travelling mother and her children story, and i'm starting to wonder if this might also be a prank from bad-boy Haneke. Is he trying to get us to concentrate, to focus our attention on the picture he is creating?

One of the intereting aspects i found in Time of the wolf was the opening credits. Here we have a film about things that are stripped away and our reaction to life in the lacking of those things. The opening credits, completely silent, with white letters against a black screen that must have gone on for close to three minutes, introduces us to our neighbors in the theater who we are hoping will soon shut up. You can hear nothing but the rumbling of poeple finding their seats, the popcorn being munched next to you, the conversation behind you and the idiot who already has to go to the bathroom. With a theme of man's inhumanity in lacking his crucial needs, the dry and empty opening credits are a foreshadowing in the theater itself that there is a moral lesson on its way.

After this was an opening shot of a car racing vertically down a road and trees -- tall, thin trees -- that seem to strectch upward for miles. I've gone on and on about the horizontal and vertical of Code Unknown, and perhaps it's just a coincidence, but intersting that again in a Haneke film we have very first picture of people racing to connect with people and a world that reaches up to the heavens... oh strike that, the last shot closes with the same thing! smile.gif A horizontal shot right out of the car door of a trian that mindlessly runs down its track, with trees, beautiful trees that reach up to the skyline above. And to think, this is all shown after the muttered phrases, "Tomorrow will be better... Water will flow... Maybe the dead will even come back to life... Maybe a sportscar will even pull up and save us all..."

Reminds me of: "Blinded eyes will open, deaf will hear again, the lame will leap, the mute tongue shout for joy... When we will see the city, the thirsty ground rejoice and sorrow melts away..."

Sorry, that's just my frame of mind i suppose. But still i'm left thinking that no matter what the situation, no matter what the circumstance, no matter what the odds of survival and means of finding abundant life, we must hope beyond all hopes for something more than this...

The truth is that Haneke has now come into his own. No longer compared with anyone else, he has developed a style that is his and he is creating films that no one else can muster the strength to come close to. He is in a completely unique position in filmmaking, pronounced only by his own individuality, not to be compared anymore with the greats but to instead find himself sitting amongst them.

-s.

Edited by stef

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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stef wrote:

: Do you think Haneke has finally settled into a groove, and his need for

: shock has been tamed down a bit? Films like Funny Games and The

: Piano Teacher definitely carry a much harder bite with them than the

: later Code Unknown and now Time of the Wolf.

Um, Code Unknown (2000) came out before The Piano Teacher (2001).


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Um, Code Unknown (2000) came out before The Piano Teacher (2001).

Well i guess that kills that theory. But still, the shock of Funny Games is much more direct than the restraint of the three recent films. I wish i'd seen more of his stuff. If i had, perhaps i could rephrase the question a little better.

Speaking of which, does anyone know if Haneke's earlier films are available on DVD? I've read in a few places that his 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance and Benny's Video are very much worth viewing, but i can't find them anywhere. Library? VHS?

Has anyone seen any of these? Or how about The Castle?

-s.

Edited by stef

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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Man, Funny Games is horrid. It is well done and all that, so well done that I could hardly watch it. The way that Haneke links the absurdist experience of the victims in the film with the victimizing effect of "brutality" in film is sheer genius. He creates tragedy in that film that leaks over into our personal lives through the act of viewing the film.

And Stef, I would certainly say "poetic" about many of those sequences. Even formally they are poetic. The parakeet scene for example: he layers the sound of the girl and boy over the sound and image of the parakeet flying and brings them all to a unified conclusion when he zips it up in his jacket. Brilliant rhyming scheme there. The burning barn scene has an incredible rhythm to it. And the Shot, Blood, Rain, Thunder scene is a little tone poem in itself.

I am having trouble as well with the last scene though. The most I can gather is that Haneke is extending man's need for religious explanations of experience into the post-apocalyptic mode. He then juxtaposes this with man's need for civil order. I don't think it is any coincidence that the man who comforts the little boy there after his intense "religious" exercise is the same one so bloodthirsty for purely civil justice around the encampment throughout his stay there.


"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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FWIW, this film is playing the Vancouver festival September 24 and October 5. No word yet on whether it will ever be released here.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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So, Jeff, did you see it?

jrobert wrote:

: This reaches its apex in the film's final scene, an extraordinary moment in an

: extraordinary film, one that raises fundamental issues of sacrifice and salvation.

This may be the final scene, but it is NOT the final sequence, or the final shot. And I won't give anything away about that final shot, except that something about it almost "transcends" the despair of the rest of the film.

(Questions for those who have seen the film: Whose point of view does that final shot represent? At what point in time is that shot supposed to be taking place? Does that shot answer the questions that certain characters have had in earlier scenes in that film, or does it remain aloof and is it, thus, a non-answer?) (Oh, wait, I just went back and checked stef's post, and he touches on this there.)

: One thing I can say is that I was reminded of a passage from John 1: "The light

: shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

Oh, man, I'm a closet pyro myself, and I LOVED the way this film used fire, and especially the way Haneke allowed fires and torches to unexpectedly and/or gradually appear in the distance. There is one great shot where Huppert is in the foreground, in the centre of the screen, her face lit only by the burning straws or twigs in her hand, and then the fire goes out, and at first you think the screen has gone black -- but then you notice that, way up in the top right section of the screen, you can make out a fire way, way off in the distance. A deep-focus shot, or a very quick focus pull at the point where Huppert's flames went out? Don't know, but I was stunned by the depth and simplicity of that composition -- and I'm sure it would have been much, much less impressive if I had seen this on the small screen, where my eyes would not have to move so much to notice the flames in the distance.

I have to admit I wasn't sure what to make of the film as soon as it was over. It didn't really have anything resembling a conventional story, and it didn't even have that clever multiple-story structure that Code Unknown had -- but it was very easy to watch, and there was a definite poetry to the look and sound of the film, and after reading the earlier posts in this thread, I am chagrined to admit that it had not occurred to me to evaluate the film primarily on those levels to begin with.

stef wrote:

: One of the intereting aspects i found in Time of the wolf was the opening credits.

: Here we have a film about things that are stripped away and our reaction to life in

: the lacking of those things. The opening credits, completely silent, with white

: letters against a black screen that must have gone on for close to three minutes,

: introduces us to our neighbors in the theater who we are hoping will soon shut up.

Heh. The projectionist at today's screening had difficulty focusing at first, and he even neglected to turn the sound on at first during the festival trailers; eventually, while still in trailers, the sound did come on, but then the projectionist began fiddling with the focus. The film's opening credits began, the focus was still being fiddled with, and then the guy right behind me yelled, again, "SOUND!" I leaned over and said, "There might not be any, you know." I almost added, "This IS a film festival, and we ARE watching an art movie, and such films DO often skip original music scores..."

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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jrobert wrote:

: This reaches its apex in the film's final scene, an extraordinary moment in an

: extraordinary film, one that raises fundamental issues of sacrifice and salvation.

This may be the final scene, but it is NOT the final sequence, or the final shot.  And I won't give anything away about that final shot, except that something about it almost "transcends" the despair of the rest of the film.

Actually, Peter, I was talking about the last shot in that sentence you quoted. I was being vague so as not to spoil anything. And I would argue that it doesn't "almost transcend" the despair; it completely transforms it. But not everyone reads the film's conclusion as hopefully as I do.

SPOILERS

Regarding the point of view in that last shot, that's an interesting question. My gut feeling is that Haneke wants to put us in the train. The film is designed to make us feel that we're part of this "community," that we too have lost almost all hope. I know I haven't had such a visceral reaction to a movie in a long time, so it makes sense that we'd feel as if we've escaped. As far as the timing of the shot goes, the movie is resolute in its linear narrative--moving desperately forward in time--so I think the natural interpretation is to see it as after the fire sequence.

There is one great shot where Huppert is in the foreground, in the centre of the screen, her face lit only by the burning straws or twigs in her hand, and then the fire goes out, and at first you think the screen has gone black -- but then you notice that, way up in the top right section of the screen, you can make out a fire way, way off in the distance. A deep-focus shot, or a very quick focus pull at the point where Huppert's flames went out? Don't know, but I was stunned by the depth and simplicity of that composition -- and I'm sure it would have been much, much less impressive if I had seen this on the small screen, where my eyes would not have to move so much to notice the flames in the distance.

Yeah, that's nice, Peter. I love that shot, too, and you're exactly right that seeing it (and much of the movie) on a small screen would ruin the effect. I can't think of another director who does so much with darkness in a single movie. You could never re-create that in your home; it has to be seen in a theater.

I have to admit I wasn't sure what to make of the film as soon as it was over. It didn't really have anything resembling a conventional story

Peter, I'll be curious what you think in a few days. When I first saw it, I knew I liked it a lot but only considered it a very good film. But a week later, I was ready to call it a masterpiece. I've seen it again since then, and my opinion hasn't changed.

J Robert

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jrobert wrote:

: Actually, Peter, I was talking about the last shot in that sentence you quoted. I

: was being vague so as not to spoil anything.

Ah, right. Sorry about that.

: Yeah, that's nice, Peter. I love that shot, too, and you're exactly right that seeing

: it (and much of the movie) on a small screen would ruin the effect.

FWIW, I happened to see it at the Granville theatre in screening room #7, which has one of the larger screens in Vancouver. I think even seeing it on the Cinematheque's relatively smaller "big screen" might have muted the effect somewhat!

: I can't think of another director who does so much with darkness in a single

: movie. You could never re-create that in your home; it has to be seen in a theater.

Oh, right! I hadn't even thought about it in those terms, but you're absolutely right -- especially in a situation like mine, where I live in a downtown apartment with pretty big windows and it's impossible to stop SOME light from filtering in off the streets.

: Peter, I'll be curious what you think in a few days. When I first saw it, I knew I

: liked it a lot but only considered it a very good film. But a week later, I was ready

: to call it a masterpiece. I've seen it again since then, and my opinion hasn't

: changed.

Interesting. My immediate reaction to the film was that I liked it while it happened but didn't know if it would stick with me, and didn't know if I could come up with any particular reason for liking it. But reading this thread has certainly helped in that regard!

FWIW, I've been hearing that the film hasn't been getting the best buzz here, but I haven't seen any actual reviews of it yet in the local press.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I get to see it next Tuesday! In between FORGIVENESS and SEARCHING FOR THE WRONG-EYED JESUS. Film Fest roolz!!


I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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spoilers1.gif

What did you make of the business about "the just"? Someone referenced a yearning for religious stuff in the post-apocalyptic setting. I couldn't take this talk the way my seat-mates did, and conclude that someone or someones in the film actually was one of the just. I could only see that they wished it might be so, but that there was an absence of any evidence. And that it ended up feeding the young boy's thinking.

My friends saw the final train shot as hopeful, optimistic. That it suggested they were not waiting in vain. And while I'll agree that it felt hopeful, that I perceived it as hopeful, I immedately discounted that: okay, so there's a train coming, or they've been picked up by the train. So? Why should we think anything will be better once the next train arrives? The last train we saw didn't bring anyone a whole lot of help or hope. (Though I'll give a lot of weight to the fact that the final shot felt hopeful - the look of it, the feel of motion, the colour, were clearly intentional. But does Haneke also intend my subsequent thoughts, following on the feelings?) Too, the preceding monologue also does much to set us up to perceive the final shot as optimistic.

How odd that Peter found this an easy watch. Not the common response, I think.

Penultimate sequence really is remarkable. I wish I had recognized while watching it that the man is the same man that attacked the Pole - that would have added so much further ambivalence (not quite the right word). As it was, I mostly experienced the collision of perceptions / feelings about the boy: that this was a horrific act he was about to commit, but for deeply altruistic reasons that were probably also deeply despairing. Suicide or martyrdom? And could it in fact be that he was "the just" one among them? Or was it simply a horrific irony that he had taken to heart the overheard conversation about the just and the "nutters"? And then the complex feelings when the man saves him from the flames (which of course was a relief, but I couldn't help thinking, saves him back into what?) and praises his intention while stopping the action. And yes, the man's final monologue was extraordinary, richly poetic, especially after a film so stripped of language AND optimism. Evoked biblical language the way the hospital room "beatitudes" did in SONGS FROM THE SECOND FLOOR.

Yeah, fire is memorable in this film. And animal deaths. (I'm surprised Peter didn't simply have a melt-down.) And darkness: certainly those sequences where the boy disappears in the dark are terrifying. Certainly tap into two primal panics, being alone in absolute darkness, and having your child disappear. Unbearable. Gutsy to go black so often, and for so long - gutsy and utterly effective.

I was surprised how unhorrifying were the events among the people once the larger group of survivors arrived. Still no picnic in the park, but no 28 DAYS LATER either. I've long been fascinated by post-apocalyptic fiction (child of the cold war), and this seems to me the ultimate among the "this is what it would really be like" sub-genre. SOmetimes the genre is merely about wish-fulfillment, or hero fantasies. Not WOLF.

Got to watch CODE UNKNOWN now (I have a vhs copy on my shelf). And got to watch for another chance to see WOLF - not something I can digest on a single viewing! And like JBob, I find the film rapidly growing in my estimation the more I ponder it (with gratitude to folks who've posted on this thread for enhancing the pondering! Thanks, as usual. Somebody make (M)Leary come back!)

Lots more to chew on. I'll be back.

Edited by Ron

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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Ron wrote:

: And animal deaths. (I'm surprised Peter didn't simply have a melt-down.)

Well, seeing this just a few days after seeing Mean Creek (in which a child graphically stabs and kills a snail or slug) and Cold Light (an Icelandic film in which a child rips the wing off a bird in a way that didn't seem very fake to me), I must be getting desensitized. I do remember noticing that Mark Harris was in the theatre at the Time of the Wolf screening I attended, and wondering what he made of the animal deaths, since I believe he made a big deal of the rabbit hunting scene in the Norwegian film Zero Kelvin when he reviewed that one for the Straight.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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spoilers1.gif

excerpts from

DARKNESS FALLS

Nick James, Sight & Sound October 2003

...Why are things not the way they 'ought' to be? What's out there?

For anyone who knows their German poetry better than I do, the title of the film, TIME OF THE WOLF, gives a clue. It comes, says Michael Haneke in the press notes, from the 'Song of the Sightseer', part of the ancient Germanic Codex Regius, which describes a time before Ragnarok, the end of the world. Later we will also see, pinned to a wall, a copy of a Durer watercolour of a delicate landscape with what would appear to be the stem of a mushroom cloud on the horizon. These are blatant signs, in case we need them, that something apocalyptic has happened....

For the first hour we get little idea of what the future might hold because darkness and uncertainty dominate to the point where there's often hardly any light on the screen. This allows for some breathtaking images to enliven the disorientation with an intimation of magic. Ben disappears into the night from the safety of a barn and Anne and Eva light bits of straw from an indoor bonfire to try to locate him. The sense here is of a quality of light that isn't strong enough to see far with but that renders everything beautiful, so much so that this first hour is a tug of war between suspense and hushed beauty. The lack of light is suggestive of the darkness before a 'new dawn'....

Concerns about genre certainly don't inhibit this film's ability to confront unpalatable truths. While the collective society encounters its stream of logisticl problems, the unconscious worlds of myth and faith begin to impinge, leading to a climax that suggest the possibility of transcendence - though hardly a comforting transcendence....

NJ: How dramatically has TIME OF THE WOLF changed in the ten years since you wrote the script?

MH: The script didn't change at all. The one thing that did change is that originally it was going to be a three-hour film. The first hour was to have taken place in an indeterminate European capital in which things are slowly starting to go wrong. There are problems we don't quite understand: the water doesn't work and neither does the electricity. This was to have been set in a ghetto for rich people such as you find in some American and South American cities, enclaves with police protection. Then one of the families decides it would be easier to go to their country house. And that's exactly where the finished film picks up. After 11 September 2001 I felt it was no longer necessary to explain this build-up. It's now easily conceivable we could be faced with a similar catastrophe....

MH: Lots of people have talked about the fact that many of the sequences in TIME OF THE WOLF are very dark on the screen. That has the simple explanation that at night, in a country deprived of electricity, it is going to be very dark. And people react in the dark in an entirely different manner. If someone is coming towards you on a well-lit street, they simply go pat and that's that. But if you're in the dark tha person is perceived as a threat. Lighting the film minimally allows the audience to experience this unease and fear....

MH: Making a science-fiction film would interest me very litt.e TIME OF THE WOLF is about contemprary society - currently four-fifths of humanity live in conditions far worse than those depicted here. The only thing I did was to take those living conditions and traspose them into our geographical area. Catastrophes for us are things that take place somewhere else. So this is not a film for the third world - they don't need to see it. This is for the wealthy nations....

NJ: There are separate killinngs of a horse and a goat, both very realistic. Since the British certification authories take these matters very seriously, how were these scenes achieved?

MH: The goat was given a tranquliser. If you look at the shot closely you can see it's still breathing. We had blood on the blade of the knife so it looks as if the goat is bleeding. There are two shots of the horse. First you see it falling when it's shot - it was trained to do that on command. The horse whose throat was cut was going to be killed anyway and the shot was taken in a slaughterhouse. It's so hypocritical, the censorious reaction, especially from carnivores. ...

NJ: You invoke several semi-religious myths - the group of the 36 Just people, which is also a Judaic story, and the people who can redeem the human race by jumping into fires.

MH: Each of these stories can be understood one way or another. Ben is willing to sacrifice himself in the flames for the good of the community but we have no idea if the story he's heard from the man who swallows the razorblade is true or not. And that's also the point made by Jean, the man who saves Ben from the flames. He says that maybe tomorrow things will be different, and that what counts is the intention, the fact that the boy was ready to take that step. How this works is for each spectator to decide for themselves. In the same way, the story of the Just people is told by a woman whom most spectators will think is crazy, but that doesn't take away from the fact that the insane often reveal the truth. Such stories inevitably evoke a religious or mythological context and I deliberately leave the inerpretation open.

NJ: The thing that bothers me about the scene at the end is that by reeeming Jean, the racist who tries to expel some Poles from the camp, you have resorted to a cliche Hollywood might employ.

MH: I see it as just the opposite. Usually in cinema a fascist is a fascist and remains so. It's much more realistic to take this fascist, Jean, who behaves like a pig, and give him moments where he expresses his humanity. It doesn't justify him and I'm not suggesting we forgive his sins. But even an asshole can commit occasional acts that are good or compassionate. I think it would have been more of a cliche if it had been one of the others who saved the boy.


I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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Anyone going to be in Chicago this Thanksgiving? Facets is screening Time of the Wolf on November 27 & 28.

Now that is something to be thankful about.

-s.


In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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The fire scene:

reminds me a bit of the Sacrifice of Isaac

. And would really resonnate with those who abhor the violence of the cricifixion and object to some of the common theories of atonement tied to that violence.

Question: Does anyone know more about the 36 Just Ones? I've heard this before in other contexts.

The ending: felt similar to the ending in Limbo


A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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I'm curious about this one, but I haven't been able to determine if I would be interested in seeing this or not from the comments (I've had to be careful not to read too much.) Can anyone give a "safe" description of the film?

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From my 2004 Top Ten list ... a "safe" description of the film:

Here's another horror story -- Michael Haneke's Time of the Wolf follows a family in France as they flee to their cabin in the woods while the world falls into an uncertain period of chaos and danger. When they arrive, they're in for a terrible surprise, and they have no choice but to go on the run in a desperate quest to survive.

Something has happened ... we're not exactly sure what, but one image in the film hints at a nuclear disaster. As a result, governments seem to have lost their balance. Chaos reigns, and people are left to fend for themselves as evils rise and men become barbaric and cruel in their attempts to survive.

The urgency and realism of Haneke's tale has the quality of prophecy. And he's in peak condition as an artist, using silence and darkness to draw us to the edges of our seats, riveted by suspense, terror and hope, as voices approach on dark nights, as strangers reveal whether they are friends or enemies, as violence breaks out threatening to doom the characters we have come to love. We can feel the fragility of civilization, and it stings because it all seems so possible.

But this isn't just a film that says "Look what could happen!" It's a story that emphasizes our need to believe in higher powers. It explores the role of myth and metaphor in civilization to suggest that the world is part of a grand design. It ultimately resists the tide of meaninglessness and chaos that threatens to flood and destroy the world. And it concludes on an enigmatic note that leaves some viewers filled with hope, others with questions, and others with dread.

Isabelle Huppert gives one of the year's best ... and most unfairly overlooked ... performances, playing a sympathetic and large-hearted character instead of the usual malevolent and twisted villain she usually plays. The young actors who play her children are also completely convincing.

My colleague J. Robert Parks insightfully compared this story to Lord of the Flies and Heart of Darkness (and thus it makes sense to also include Apocalypse Now in this assessment). Time of the Wolf is one of the great nightmares made for the screen, one that is worthy of contemplation, discussion, and multiple viewings. It never simplifies things for us. It never preaches. It drops us into a frightening world and allows us to consider questions in the safety of a fiction, questions we will hopefully never have to confront so forcefully in our own experience.

Caution: There is a scene of a horse's execution that is portrayed without any flinching, and this may be a source of great distress for certain viewers. Proceed with caution.


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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