13 August 2002 | kentos
a controlled freak-out
Having spent a couple years now browsing thru IMDb, this is the first film I've seen that actually motivated me to leave a comment. I've seen 3 other (more recent) movies by Haneke: "Funny Games," "Code Unknown," and "The Piano Teacher." All of them disturbed me in their own special way--a feeling that I obviously don't mind getting from a film. "The 7th Continent," though, really blew me away in ways that I find difficult but necessary to describe.
This was Haneke's first theatrical film & apparently based on a true story--although I'm always skeptical of such disclaimers (the same was said about "Picnic at Hanging Rock," another great creepy film). It's divided into 3 parts: 1987, 1988, and 1989. Many scenes repeat themselves, and we get a clear sense that the family (dad, mom, daughter) is going through the motions of modern life. The banalities have a bizarre and uneasy edge to them, though, that really piles up by the time Part 3 arrives. All I have to say about the last 40 minutes is: OH MY GOD! I thought Gaspar Noe's "I Can't Sleep" (?) had an excruciating buildup, but that one (with all its explicitness) can't hold a candle to the amount of emotional and physical devastation packed into the conclusion of "Continent."
Fans of Haneke's later work should definitely check this one out to see the origin of his trademarks: no music score, seemingly pointless scenes that linger (often with little or no dialogue), off-putting camera angles (we sometimes see only the actors' hands or feet). While these techniques aren't always successful in his films ("Code" had some interminable moments), they all come together seamlessly in "Continent." A superb work!