What movie was that...?

26 March 2011

Le Temps Du Loup (Time of the Wolf)

directed by Michael Haneke

The opening sequence will give fans of Funny Games a strange sense of déjà vu, but Michael Hanecke’s terrific film, Time of the Wolf, may also give you Cormac McCarthy fans another sense of déjà vu. Before John Hillcoat directed the fantastic adaptation, Mr. Cormac McCarthy penned the phenomenal book of the same title. And before all you “oh, the book was so much better” snobs start in with your two cents and I completely lose you, keep this timeline in mind:

2009: John Hillcoat’s film version of The Road premieres.

2006: Cormac McCarthy’s book, The Road, is published.

2003: Cormac, according to his own telling, is inspired with the idea for The Road while on a trip to El Paso, Texas with his son.

2003: Michael Haneke’s film, Le Temps Du Loup, premieres on October 8th.
Note: Haneke states (on the special features for the film) that he had this idea for Time of the Wolf even before Funny Games (which came out in 1997).

Wow. I feel a little like Jim Garrison here, spouting grassy knoll conjecture. Back, and to the left! Anyway, ladies and gentleman of the jury, I am providing you with this precious info on the chance that you have not watched Michael Haneke’s excellent piece of filmic art before. If you have, then you already know what I am talking about here, and you have probably been arguing this point at various cocktail parties to bewildered and (let’s face it) apathetic audiences for years (really? Who’s inviting you anywhere, BC? And really, cocktail parties? Is this the 1950’s?). Michael Haneke’s films are grueling, taxing, visceral experiences that seek to point out the drastic social incongruities that surround us. While McCarthy’s book (and it is a stellar book) uses the unnamed, unexplained disaster in a metaphysical way, Haneke uses the device to shock the indulgent, quasi-affluent Westerners of his filmic tale into conditions daily experienced by much of the rest of the world. There isn’t any cannibalism or scorched earth or Lord of the Flies madness, just civilized people clinging to what little trappings of civility can be afforded. It’s tense, harrowing, and exhausting, but Le Temps Du Loup provides a radical framework for looking at both “disaster” films and the human mechanism as a whole. As The Black Keys so aptly put it: You know what the sun’s all about when the lights go out. Touché, Misters Auerbach and Carney.

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