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The Seventh Continent
The Seventh Continent
Actors: Birgit Doll, Dieter Berner, Leni Tanzer, Udo Samel, Silvia Fenz
Director: Michael Haneke
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
UR     2006     1hr 44min

Studio: Kino International Release Date: 05/16/2006 Run time: 104 minutes


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Movie Details

Actors: Birgit Doll, Dieter Berner, Leni Tanzer, Udo Samel, Silvia Fenz
Director: Michael Haneke
Creators: Anton Peschke, Michael Haneke, Marie Homolkova, Veit Heiduschka, Johanna Teicht
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Studio: Kino Video
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 05/16/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/1989
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1989
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 44min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: French
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

The triviality is the antechamber of desperation!
Hiram Gomez Pardo | Valencia, Venezuela | 10/05/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Obsessive tale of the existential despair, signed by the thick brume of triviality that lives beneath the way of living of a modern family.

This dark story has nothing to do with a pretended fable, because, the universal anguish in what so many people live, may be carved in relief.

When Paul Diel defined in "The symbology of Myth" the triviality as the lack of physical tensions in the human being, then everything is clearer at the moment to decipher this apparently absurd and out of context behavior.

One of the most devastating and horrid existential testimonials in years.

One of the best films of the decade.

A serious Case of Weldschmerz
Zarathustra | Sacramento, CA USA | 06/28/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In French it would be La Nausee, in the USA it is The Blues. A young middle class Austrian family slowly falls apart before our eyes. It begins with their young daughter feigning blindness. The malaise slowly spreads to the mother and father. It is a seemingly loving, attractive family, but there is no joy in their lives, only meaningless ritual.
The title refers to Australia, where they plan to escape, but they never make it.
The Seventh Continent is Michael Haneke's first film, released in 1989, and based on a news story that he read. In this film he sets the pattern for many of his future films. He presents images, but does not try to explain the characters' motivation. Thus, he insists that the viewer find his own reasons for the characters' actions. There is no "right answer", since every viewer will be supplying his own motivations and in a sense creating his own film."
Welcome to the world of Haneke...
Andrew Ellington | I'm kind of everywhere | 06/21/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)

"To show that I am not completely bias and that I will not just hand continual five-star praise to Michael Haneke's work, I present to you my review of `Der Siebente Kontinent'. This isn't to say that I don't think this is a strong film, for it certainly is, but the flaws within this film are more readily noticeable.

This is Haneke's first feature film and thus his most amateur.

`Der Siebente Kontinent' is a film that, like all of Haneke's work, will haunt you. Using his cautious approach to weave a tale of eventual brutish barbarianism, Haneke creates a cold and isolated world that the audience feels almost instantly repulsed by. We are guarded as we sit down to soak in all that Haneke presents, and as we indulge our senses we see that there is much within this world to be afraid of. Being the first film in Haneke's `Glaciation Trilogy', `Der Siebente Kontinent' definitely creates an air of emotional apathy.

The film is a true account of a young suburban family who find that they have become emotionally void thanks to their thankless existence. They go through their routines with a sterile quality that leaves them rather unfulfilled. With nothing to differentiate them from anyone else (thus Haneke's decision to film them solely from the neck down for the first few minutes of the film), they have become another statistic; nothing more, nothing less. Watching this family go through their daily routine can become predictable and boring, but that is the entire intent of the film. Haneke films this in a way that brings the audience right into their home and into their life and gives them exactly what is needed to place them in the right mind frame.

If their lives were interesting then the ending wouldn't make much sense.

The films last 30-minutes may come as a major shock, and that is indeed the purpose. If you can make it through without feeling completely torn up inside then I think you may possess a callous soul (although I am the one who said he felt NOTHING while watching `Benny's Video'). The vision that Haneke lays out for us is repulsive to the mind because it contradicts everything we want to accept. As we watch this family slowly crumble under their own mental disease (if you can label it that) we see fragments of our own lives. The mundane, forgettable, repeated procedure that establishes our days, weeks, months and years slowly begins to eat away at our desire to continue. What is all the more shocking is that this family shows absolutely no signs of internal torment. They seem happy and content.

Like you and me.

In then end, `Der Siebente Kontinent' is a striking film that suffers at times from its own intellect. Like I said, this is Haneke's most amateurish film, and so there are many segments that seem to become distracted by Haneke's own vision. Over time Haneke found ways to perfect his style, showing great balance in his substance/visual department. Because `Der Siebente Kontinent' is very much `wash, rinse, repeat' it can get a tad over-long, which is the point but also a deterrent. It's hard to critique something that seems almost necessary, but truth be told it can and does drag on in scenes (which is something of a feat for a film clocking in under 2-hours). I also found the ending (especially the use of the television) to be a tad overdone and rather `preachy', which is not a quality I often relate to Haneke's work. For something who relishes ambiguities, this film felt almost too `complete' for me. I will never critique Haneke's decisions to show the grit of the violence he creates, because that is the soul of his films. This films particular route in that department made me slightly nauseous and sunk me into a deep depression that his films don't often do. Yes, he creates harsh themes and does deliver considerable `downer' films, but I've never felt immovable after witnessing a feature film from him, until this one. The acting is spotty (Birgit Doll and Dieter Berner are pretty great, but Leni Tanzer falls apart in the end and Udo Samel is just plain bad) but overall it comes together just fine.

In the end I strongly recommend you at least witness this film (and every other film by the genius that is Michael Haneke). There are few directors out there that can convey a theme so thoroughly, creating something almost organic out of something so `evil'."
Michael Haneke's rare skill
Chris Wilson | Dallas, TX | 04/02/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)

"What to make of Michael Haneke, the director whose unsettling films will disturb for weeks on end (Cache (Hidden), Time of the Wolf)? Born and raised in Germany (he most certainly is not American), since 1989 he's carved an extraordinary career as one of the most challenging artists of the modern era. His films make the work of Stanley Kubrick seem like a stroll through Pollyanna (Vault Disney Collection). But Kubrick, one of the great directors in history (Stanley Kubrick: Warner Home Video Directors Series (2001 A Space Odyssey / A Clockwork Orange / Eyes Wide Shut unrated / Full Metal Jacket / The Shining / A Life in Pictures)), is the filmmaker I am most reminded of when viewing Haneke (and to a lessor extent Ingmar Bergman - The Ingmar Bergman Trilogy: The Criterion Collection (Through a Glass Darkly / Winter Light / The Silence)). I'm sure there are other comparisons, Italian neorealists and French auteurs.

Haneke's debut was this stark and haunting 1989 work "The Seventh Continent." It has a film student quality (perhaps a way of saying it's not commercial?), but with an undeniable air of skill. The photography is superb, brightly lit with the striking colors of an assured visionary. Each shot appears scientifically realized, with universal detail of the modern world instantly identifiable. If archaeologists were to uncover this film 500 years from now, in addition to being disturbed, they would have a perfect document of the existence of a middle class family in the late 20th century - compact cars, comfortable dress shoes, shower curtains, supermarkets, toilets, clock radios, televisions, fish aquariums and cereal bowls.

The film opens in a car wash as a faceless family sits idly as huge brushes slowly move across the windshield. They drive to work, sleep in bed, turn off the alarm, put on house slippers, eat breakfast, drive to work. This opening segment lasts roughly 30 minutes until we jump forward one year. As American viewers conditioned by familiar patterns of action and thrillers, we are awaiting something, anything to happen. But this enigmatic family, barely speaking a word of dialog, embarks on an identical process. The alarm clock is turned off, the house slippers (a bit more weathered) put on and the compact car is similar but a different color. This family is essentially immersed in the same routine of the previous year. It's a startling indictment of modern life, perhaps told from the viewpoint of one preoccupied by a lifetime exposed to the arts (Haneke is the well-to-do son of a director and actress), which basically means he's a privileged man on the outside looking in - but hey, there is a fish aquarium emphasized throughout.

Haneke's trademarks are apparent, even at this infant stage of his career. You have the startling violence, carefully executed scenes lasting minutes at a time and no musical score to alleviate the reality (well, Meatloaf does make an appearance on the family TV - Bat Out of Hell). And, while I suspect his philosophical reasons, you have the killing of living creatures on screen, in this case tropical fish. In later films, Haneke will kill a pig, a horse and a chicken - and I have yet to see the rest of his work. I'm not sure I can forgive him for this, but it is Haneke's way of exposing the core of actual violence. As viewers we have been conditioned by artistic murder when characters, played by such actors as Clint Eastwood (The Outlaw Josey Wales), casually kill men on screen until piles of them form at their feet (and yes, this is also a reference to Peckinpah). It is warmly visceral, an exciting charge of adrenalin appeasing, or perhaps stoking, an inner need for strength and control. Haneke's violence, certainly in the case of the doomed animals, is anything but operatic. It is real, sudden and unexpected, akin to the ugly violence of real life (work a few years as an ER doctor or policeman to understand my point). Why do we applaud Eastwood when he fires a bullet point blank squarely into the forehead of a villain, and yet, turn away when seeing the footage of Loan executing Lem? Well, one is fantasy and the other reality.

OK, back to "The Seventh Continent." As the film progresses, it becomes fairly clear the family is moving towards a decision. The choice is preceded by the destruction of every material item they own, a stunning series of scenes where clocks, beds, clothes, chairs, tables and yes, the aforementioned fish aquarium, are destroyed. The camera details this destruction, including the shredding of paper money dumped into a toilet bowl, with unflinching eyes. Their decision (as with all Haneke films, there are no abundantly clear motivations) has few simple answers, but is undoubtedly based on spiritual boredom and the loss of identity due to an endless loop of unsatisfying material existence.

Haneke's "The Seventh Continent" is shocking, exposing modern life in such a manner brave viewers will question not only the film medium (Haneke's ultimately brilliant contribution), but the mundane aspects of their own lives. Frankly, so many films today are derivative and disposable. To his enormous credit, Haneke's work provokes endless discussion and contemplation, which is a tribute to his rare skill. That's not to say I would recommend watching this repeatedly if in a depressed state."