Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

New movies: Caché? What does it mean?

When Michael Haneke's Caché ended, I turned to my companion and said "I don't think I got that."

After the jump, I discuss my interpretation. I am hoping that someone somewhere gives me the secret decoder ring.

I think it's an important movie, and the Paris Riots make it almost absurdly timely. If you've seen Code Inconnu, you'll never forget the metro scene. Caché is almost as indelible (though more didactic).

Anyhow, I want to discuss the plot! If you've seen the movie, please read after the jump. MAJOR SPOILERS AFTER THE JUMP.

OK, what happened in that last shot?

I did notice the two sons talking, and at first I thought it was a kidnapping, but then they were too friendly. So I thought they were in on it together.

The person I saw it with thought that Majid's son was also the swim coach (who I had noticed was Arab, but didn't pay attention to). She suggested that maybe Georges' son was behind it all after getting the basic info from his coach. That's reading a lot into it -- but as she pointed out, the son's tranformation and surliness is never really explained. Moreover, why else were all those swimming scenes included?

Another thing I realized is that the last shot is set up like the first shot and all the other "voyeur" videos, so maybe it suggests there's a hidden character responsible for the videos.

Basically, I'm confused.

I know that we should accept ambiguity and unresolved questions, but I thought this film was otherwise conventional enough to warrant a certain clarity of interpretation.

What do you think?

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  • At 11:14 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    I'm not sure you're meant to figure out the plot. My reasoning is this: I'm pretty sure Georges and Anne are meant to stand in for the colonial power faced with terrorism. I don't think it was an accident, for example, that George kept talking about his family being "terrorized," or that long news scenes from Iraq and Palestine interrupted the middle of the movie, or that Majid's parents were killed protesting the French occupation of Algeria. Georges's reaction to the tapes is exactly analogous to, say, the U.S. reaction to terrorism: first, he denies that he might have provoked anyone to harm him, and he continues to deny that there is any reason for Majid to hate him even after he forms the idea that it might be him sending the tapes. Even when he is finally able to admit that he hurt Majid, he refuses to take responsibility and threatens overwhelming violence in response, even threatens Majid's son after Majid's death (a suicide attack, of course). It is important, I think, that that lashing out is indiscriminate: he assumes that those with a grievance against him are those who hurt him, but he never really finds out and neither do we. The movie has to end enigmatically, just as "wars on terrorism" are ultimately unsatisfying and miss their mark.

    That's what I can pull out of my ass, anyway.

  • At 12:14 AM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    Maybe that was all obvious and you were asking about something else, though.

  • At 2:34 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Hm, yeah, it was definitely all about colonialism. More than just random news in the background, in the scene where Anne is freaking out neurotically about her potentially missing son, the shot is set up so that in between Ann and Georges is a news report about women in Iraq (and then Palestine) grieving for their sons slaughtered by U.S./Israel. I.e., "You stupid petty bourgeoisie and your petty neuroses, don't you realize you're implicated in state-sponsored slaughter of innocents?" That actually made me roll my eyes because I thought it was too didactic. Like, in the theater my eyes involuntarily rolled. Not kidding.

    I can see what you're saying about the importance of unresolved blame in the movie as a parable. YET I think it's conventional enough that there actually is an answer.

    At this point, I am pretty sure Majid is the swim coach. Maybe I'll post what a certain film critic emailed me (no not our friend).

  • At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Viagra Online said…

    I also didn't understood the film, and today I still dont get it, many friends explained what they understood and it was worst.

  • At 3:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Where George is shown editing the section of the show, the discussion is of Arthur Rimbaud. The guy discussing Rimbaud it is talking about a nun who is analyzing Rimbaud, and he goes on and on but leaves out the essence that Rimbaud had a short and torrid love affair with another poet, Verlaine.

    It seems to me, George is editing to bring out "fact", not to manipulate the audience for naught.

    However, I would be more prone to call Rimbaud bisexual, but that is a whole other discussion.

    When Anne meets with Pierre and cries over George withholding information, and lying to her, I am among those who do not see anything sexual in her laying her head on his shoulder for a moment and him gently putting an arm around her.
    Our whole concept of friendship between the sexes is perverted now a days . Which is a whole other discussion.

    I like the idea of the videos being symbolic, but I also like them as being real in the world of the film, as in a thriller. I like it that the sender remains "hidden". It could have been anyone from his past.

    The two "cousins" meeting at the end is not necessarily out of synch, even if they have nothing to do with orchestrating the video filming. But it is a nice shock.

    I read no mention of how his boss gets the tape where George threatens Madjid from Majid's apartment, and the real implication that his TV career might be over as a result.
    This fits in with both the symbolic and literal interpretations.

    On one hand, this whole thing about being ambiguous and just leaving hints is fun in a film, but can be a deal breaker in a relationship.

    Yet, on the other hand, life is mysterious and often ambiguous and to a certain point one often has to make decisions without clear explanations, or the need to press. But there are always hidden watchers.



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