Left Behinds

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

Monday, December 26, 2005

Update: Caché's meaning


A film critic emailed me about Caché (yes, I was so perplexed that after writing this post about the ending I also emailed one of my favorite critics, and he actually emailed me back).

After seeing Hidden at a public screening at the Toronto Film Festival, a sample size of friends and colleagues revealed that about 2/3rds of the people who saw it completely missed the crucial piece of visual information at the end while the other third was still puzzling out what it meant... Before speculating on the significance of it all, let's fill in the blanks first:
In the final shot, two characters who never shared screen space come together for what appears to be a genial conversation: Autueil and Binoche's son Pierrot and Majid's son. If memory serves, Pierrot exits the school from the left side, curls round a crowd of other classmates, and meets Majid's son in the left part of the frame. Believe it or not, they spend a pretty decent amount of time together. Want visual evidence. Check it out [in the pic above]

Majid's son is the kid facing the camera with his arm outstretched to Pierrot's shoulder.Not to getall Antonioni on you, but here's a closer look:

Okay, so what does it all mean? At first, I was inclined to take the most literal interpretation possible: That the videotapes and letters were some sort of collaboration between the younger generation. But as I get further from the film, this makes less and less sense to me, because I'm inclined to take Majid's son at his word when he tells Auteuil he knows nothing about the tapes. A wise cinephile friend of mine believes that the meeting says more about the future than the past, and something hopeful at that: That the younger generation can come together and take steps to resolve the traumas of the past. This dovetails nicely with the film's political allegory about the state of French-Algerian relations (though you can probably claim the same for their collaboration on the tapes, with the kids unearthing the sins of the father). In any case, I really don't wish to draw any hard conclusions until I see the film a second time. And there's no doubt I'll be seeing this one multiple times. (I'm told also to look sharp during the swim meet scene for further clues...)



I think that Pierrot is behind the videotapes. Either him or another, unnamed, hidden player (who is, perhaps, videotaping the last scene). I'm pretty satisfied that the film has a relatively pat explanation, and it's one of those two. I think.

UPDATE (March 11th):

There has been a lot of discussion, and I'll recap some highlights. Those of us who believe in solving the whodunit basically agree that Pierrot and Majid's son probably conspired (with disagreement over the details).

-A lot of people think that even discussing the question of who sent the tapes misses the point of the movie. But, as Nick writes, "Cache may be an art film, but it adheres to the genre conventions of a whodunnit. The entire narrative structure of the film is designed to induce the audience to solve a mystery."
-After I watched the movie again, it's clear that the swim coach is not Majid's son (though he is Franco-Arab). I also dispelled a couple other confusions: there is no doubt Pierrot and Majid's son talk (very suggestively, IMO) in the last scene; the person watching Anne have lunch with her friend (lover?) is just a random stranger; and Georges does not follow Majid's son in the last scene (he is not in the crowd at all)
-In the flashbacks (of dubious veracity), Majid gets in trouble for slaughtering a cock, the symbol of France. There are many other instances of heavy-handed symbolism.
-Karen says that " I think Georges can't be trusted, even in his dreams. I also think he did something worse than he's confessed to Anne."
-"I believe Georges himself made the tapes. His memories and strong feelings of betrayal haunt him and lead him to create his own nightmare. This is a trick of his inner emotions to confront his superficial life." - Kyeplutten
-"Most if not all of this film is from Georges’ dreams and memories (Are they really so different after all?)" - Dunn
-Nystrom and Keeble write that "the videotapes are not sent by any person in the 'cinematic reality' that the film takes place in, but are in fact placed by Haneke himself. The tapes then act as some sort of meta-cinematic device to instigate the intrigue and questions that follow. "

But those are just highlights from the very thoughtful and lively discussion from readers below.

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190 Comments:

  • At 2:32 AM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    Thinking about it more, I'm not sure the pat explanations work for me. What sense can you make of the confrontation between Majid's son and Georges at his office if Georges knows the guy, as obviously he does if he's Pierrot's swim coach? If Pierrot or one of his swim buddies is behind the taping, how do they plant the camera in Majid's apartment? How do they arrange the phone calls?

     
  • At 11:17 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Oh yeah, good point that Georges would already have met him. Unless maybe he's such a negligent father that he never met the coach? Although.... When Georges and Majid's son first meet at the apartment, is it possible they already know each other? I don't quite remember how that went down, though I think not very many words were exchanged, which could be ambiguous. There was no "Mr. Laurent, what brings you to my apartment," but maybe there were so few words at all that that could have been the subtext? I honestly can't quite remember.

    I thought of the problem of the camera in Majid's apartment. I think that and the phone calls could be explained away by some sort of scheming. The fact that Georges and Majid's son would have likely met seems a bigger problem to me.

    At the very least, the swim coach was a young Arab guy who looked like Majid's son. And based on his past movies, Haneke has a tendency to make his Arab characters somewhat noble/the moral centers of the movie.

    I want to see the movie again, but I really do think it has an explanation. This is Haneke's most conventional movie by far (well at least compared to the few that I've seen). It sets up conventional narrative expectations that it satisfies all throughout the movie, so it would be a failure if it abruptly in the last scene took a completely different tone/approach.

     
  • At 3:55 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    Unless maybe he's such a negligent father that he never met the coach?

    Definitely not. There's a scene where Georges and Anne go to Pierrot's swim practice, when the boys are all doing situps on the deck, and wave to the coach.

     
  • At 7:19 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Ah, damn. You remember that better than I do.

    It's official, I have to see this movie again.

     
  • At 11:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'll explain this movie so that no one else feels compelled to torture themselves into seeing it (again).

    "motivation, means, opportunity"

    Pierrot is a "troubled youth" who resents his parents. He thinks his mother Anne (Julliet Binoche) is having an affair and he obviously has little connection to his father. He thinks his parents deserve to suffer. This is his "motivation". Further proof of this is the fact that he did NOT call his (understandably freaked-out) parents when he stayed at Francois' home.

    "Means" - Pierrot's father Georges (Daniel Auteuil) works in TV so he has access to video equipment. Majid's son is poor so he wouldn't likely have access to such equipment.

    "Opportunity" – Ringing the doorbell/dropping off a videotape and not being seen outside is easy for someone hiding inside the home. Pierrot could have used cell-phones to make the hang-up calls. We don’t see Binoche or Georges using *69 or caller-id.

    Conclusion – It is reasonable to think Majid’s son approached Pierrot in the backstory (before the film started) just as he approached Georges’ at his office. Pierrot feels guilty and wants to confront his father “with the past”. The video-tapes are his passive-aggressive way of dealing with it. Also, I think Majid’s son always said “I did not send you those videotapes” and not “I have no idea who had anything to do with those videotapes”.

    If all of this explanation makes Cache sound remotely interesting then I must be the greatest writer in the history of the world. The odds of that are very slim.

    Cache is a long, boring, faux-artsy and confusing movie. Just because it’s French don’t assume that those are ingredients for a good film. Most people like a good mystery. This wasn’t one. If it was made 40 years ago you might “appreciate” it yet still not enjoy it. However, nowadays Cache should be seen for what it is: amateurish and terrible!

    I’ve wasted too much time writing this. Now I have to cleanse my palate with a Jim Carrey movie. ;-)

    Dan (aka "Corpania")

     
  • At 12:27 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Hi, Dan. I pretty much agree with your interpretation of the plot, except there are some niggling little problems with that interpretation, which we discussed above, and you ignore the swim coach connection.

    I disagree with you about the movie overall, though. I didn't think it was a perfect movie (for me, the political message was too didactic, and the Franco-Moroccan characters were oversimplified), but I thought it was powerful. Long and confusing, yes. Boring and faux-artsy, not to me. Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil were absolutely fantastic, and I enjoyed the rhythm of slowness punctuated by sudden drama.

    And if you thought this was long, boring, and confusing, I highly, highly recommend you do not see any of Haneke's previous movies, because this was his most conventional. Though if so, you'll be missing out on some great cinema. There's one scene in his last movie, Code Inconnu, that I will always think about whenever I ride a subway.

     
  • At 3:39 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Also, if anyone else remembers any clues from the swim meet, please post them here...

    This page is getting a lot of traffic from Google, but not many visitors are posting comments. I guess everyone is flummoxed? Or maybe convinced by my brilliant interpretation? ;)

     
  • At 3:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Dan (aka "Corpania) here again.

    Dear Solomon Grundy,

    Not sure if it's settled that Majid's son was the swim coach. Though that doesn't matter much.

    For me the politcal message almost makes the film not terrible. Almost.

    Thanks for the warning about his earlier films. Though I would like to know about the subway scene (please email me at resolver@corpania.com)

    ALSO I think you meant to write "Maybe the reason there are so many vistors but relatively few posts is that everyone is convinced by my brilliant interpretaion insightfully augmented by Dan (aka "Corpania")."

    You are forgiven for the oversight.

    Delusionally,

    Dan (aka "Corpania")

     
  • At 1:06 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Heh, fair enough, I didn't mean to overlook your brilliance, I was just too dazzled by my own. Continuing with the narcissism, let me quote myself (from my first post about Cache):

    Pierrot's transformation and surliness are 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.

    And yeah, I agree with the political message (I think, roughly), but I thought it was a little too heavy-handed, such as when Georges and Anne are arguing about their potentially missing son and the shot is set up so that directly between them is a TV showing various grieving mothers in war-torn Arab countries (the point being, your bourgeois crisis would be a good day for any of the families in France's former colonies, etc.).

    The metro scene is from Code Inconnu. I don't know what the American translation of that film is (if "A Ma Soeur" can become "Fat Girl" in the U.S., anything's possible). The scene comes maybe 3/4 of the way through, and I don't want to give anything away, but it's basically Juliette Binoche dealing with some teenage boys harrassing her, and it's just so realistically done, so tense. And everyone is implicated -- the teens for being assholes, her for being snooty, her fellow passengers, and French public policy (and the architect/social planner Le Corbusier) for keeping these kids cooped up in de facto prison colonies in the suburbs where they have absolutely nothing to do so instead they amuse themselves by causing trouble on the metro. OK, that last part is only implicit.

    I would actually recommend renting Code Inconnu. It is disjointed, but individual scenes like that one are very powerful.

     
  • At 1:03 PM, Anonymous Meursault said…

    In my own interpretation, this film has to be seen also as an allegory on "looking" and "seeing", "memory" and "remembering".

    Hence the camera? Who is the cameraman? Us? Aneke? One of the characters? No one in particular?

    If I remember well the film I saw a few months ago, it was subtle but always possible to distinguish between sequences from the "film" we were seeing (Aneka´s camera) and sequences from the "hidden camera". It is here that starts the paradox, because both are Aneka´s camera. But he gave us clues, by the absence of camera movements, for example.

    This is probably one of the most powerful and recurrent ideas in Aneka’s films: what is real and what is not.

    Just to illustrate that this "open" interpretation cannot and should not be solved by normal Hollywood type solutions.

    Just to stir the confusion: the scene of Georges childhood, shown as he tells his wife, while Majid is carried away forcedly to a car on its way to an orphanage is filmed the same way as the "hidden camera"? An excruciatingly long, fixed and cold plan from far way. Like remembering a memory. Who upon us doesn’t have memories of childhood that maybe are not more then memories of a memory? Aren’t they all?

    As Cornenberg once said: you can never see too much in a film.

    In that sense we are all correct because that is where the film took us.

     
  • At 12:41 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Yeah, I agree that it's good that the film flouts normal Hollywood expectations of narrative pleasure, and that it's cool that it is open to various interpretations.

    However, I do think it adheres more to narrative conventions than a lot of the director's other work, so there is a favored interpretation. But I don't think that's the most interesting part of the film at all.

    I like and agree with the "Hidden Costs" essay that's linked at the bottom of these comments...

     
  • At 9:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi,

    I just saw this movie and thought its greatness lay in its ambiguity. Plus in the real sin that lies in denial. Georges was truly a horrible man, incapable of thinking of anyone aside from himself.

    A few points:
    -When the parents went to a swim class to pick up their son (the boys were doing situps against the wall) , the coach waved in recognition. This was *before* meeting the son in the apartment. The son clearly was not the coach.


    -Juliette Binoche looked like she was having inappropriate intimacy with one of her male friends. I don't know whether she was having an affair. She came back late and *said* she had dinner with him; in fact she had *lunch* with him. (The movie suggested it was the same day--not earlier. I might have missed the time).

    This correlated exactly with Pierrot's disappearance. [i.e. the same day] I thought he had seen a tape--or other evidence--of his mother's disloyalty to this father. What else would explain his utter insolence and disprespect to her.

     
  • At 12:05 PM, Blogger Olman Feelyus said…

    Hmmm. Great discussion. I found your blog through your comments on IMDB. I like both the Pierrot as stalker and the Majid's son as swim coach theories. I'm not totally sold on the latter, but based on the way Daniel Auteuil's character behaves with anybody who isn't in his immediate realm of white, bourgeois professionals, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if he'd never had any interaction with the swim coach, other than waving at him from afar. Of course, the swim coach is going to recognize his students' parents, but that doesn't mean they are going to recognize him.

    I mean that guy was so caught up in himself and so blind to the world around him, that he never thought to ask a single question of Majid or his father. He didn't even treat them like human beings, even when it might have helped him figure out what the hell was going on. I suspect that was deliberate on the filmmaker's part, condemning the west not only for our ignorance towards the other, but our refusal to even recognize that the other could possibly even exist as human beings.

    Still, on the thriller level, he'd have to be awfully stupid not to recognize that the swim coach was Majid's son after the confrontation in the office.

    Worth thinking about.

     
  • At 2:26 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Heh, thanks.

    Yeah, I agree that Georges is not exactly the most likable white man in Paris, and also that there are a number of red herrings (the affair, for example) that make it hard to figure out ... until I rent it as soon as it comes out on video.

     
  • At 5:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It could possibly be the son for another reason that hasn't been brought up. When Majid is first confronted a number of things, on reflection, struck me:

    (a) He recognised G straight away. Of course this is because of G's TV show. But he is going on to explain, when he is interrupted by G. Possibly more would have been revealed about how he felt, what he's been through, what he told his son etc. We can be quite certain that M told his son about G even before G turned up.

    (b) When he is shown the hand drawn picture, he is not surprised and, tantalisingly, tells G to sit down as if he is about to explain.But doesn't, and partly because G is so convinced and interrupts him again.

    Tariq

     
  • At 8:52 PM, Anonymous EstreetAdvocate said…

    Ladies and Gentlemen of the Left Behind,

    I just got home after seeing Cache, and searched the web to confirm or deny my suspicions about the film.

    Perhaps b/c I'm a lawyer, I'm looking for the most reasonable explaination to the mystery, although some of you suggest this is not possible given the film's allegorical nature.

    Corpania used the "motive, means, opportunity" analysis, but he does not explain how Pierrot set up a camera in Majid's apartment and retrieved it so quickly afterward. This makes the "opportunity" part of the analysis less plausable if Pierrot was working alone. Also, the voice of one of the harassing phone calls that Georges' wife receives sounds like a man's voice rather than an adolescent disguising his voice.

    The perpetrator had to be someone who knew the details of the history between Georges and Majid. The only characters who would have known this are Georges, Majid, and most likely Majid's son. Also, the perpetrator would need a motive to torture Georges and his wife (if I remember correctly, Pierrot is never told about the tapes and/or is never portrayed as being disturbed by them).

    Majid's son as the swim coach sounds very unlikely. The scene in which Georges and Pierrot show up for swim practice and Georges waves to the coach is after Pierrot was out all night and Georges had Majid and his son arrested. I doubt things were smoothed over with a friendly wave. Pehaps an Arab swim coach suggests Arab influence on western French kids.

    Also, there is a lot of lying going on. Pierrot appears be dishonest in a typically adolescent way, mainly about where he has been. Georges' wife is suspiciously cozy with her boss. Georges is an obvious liar, especially towards his wife. So then why are we willing to believe Majid and his son? Solomon Grundy wrote that Haneke usually portrays his Arab characters has noble/moral, but the dishonesty throughout the film suggests we take no one at his word.

    The most likely explanation is that Pierrot and Majid's son were working together (Majid's son for revenge, Pierrot to torture his parents with adolescent anger). The comment by the film critic that the final meeeting between Majid's son and Pierrot is a symbol of hope for the next generation seems overly optimistic. Given the context of the film and the possibility that Majid's son and Pierrot were working together, the meeting of the two suggest that younger generation of Arabs (or whatever outcast/oppressed people) and westerners are working together to destroy the current power structure; not with enlightened ideas, but with violence.

    Great point by Meursault about the "hidden" camera in the flashback; it does add another level to the film's subject/object voyeurism.

    Overall, an interesting flick, though I'll leave it to the hardcore cinephiles to watch it a dozen more times and post their revelations.

     
  • At 4:08 AM, Blogger dunn said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 4:17 AM, Blogger dunn said…

    I have just seen this movie and have many interpretations.

    First, it is very clearly a political AND psychological film, and more precisely, one in which the message is about the extent to which individuals and societies will do anything so as not to have to face their own shame. As a result, we further victimize those whom we have hurt; for to deal with the shame is too painful. It is much easier to blame those that make us feel the shame, than to face the full responsibility for what we have done.

    I also agree wholeheartedly with Meursault's entry above and would go even further by saying that most if not all of this film is from Georges’ dreams and memories! (Are they really so different after all?)!

    -There is no way that the hidden camera could have been located where it was and not detected by Georges. In one scene, Georges walks to his car and the camera could not have been very far away; in another scene at night Georges pulls up behind the camera and then walks right by the camera without seeing it. It is not possible that the camera could have been there and not discovered. The camera simply reflects Georges’ consciousness.
    - As Meursault stated, “the scene of Georges’ childhood, shown as he tells his wife, while Majid is carried away forcedly to a car on its way to an orphanage is filmed the same way as the "hidden camera"? An excruciatingly long, fixed and cold plan from far way. Like remembering a memory.

    Finally, in terms of the “big picture” – and despite (or perhaps demonstrated by) my comments above, the whole movie is reflective of what is “hidden” inside each of us. As we really don’t “know” anything that is absolutely real in this film, it is possible that it is simply a very elaborate Rorschach test; what we “see” is who we are. For example, my date (female) did not think that anything happened during that lunchtime meeting where Anne was crying to Pierre, and I (male) definitely thought that they slept together! There is no way to know which is right – but it was really interesting to see how opposite our interpretations were, and how they reflected who we are more than who Anne and Pierre might be.

    Other items of interest that have not been discussed in the blog:
    1. The two mother/son conversations: Anne/Pierrot and Georges and his mother were very similar. Perrot answered questions posed by his mother much like Georges did. If it was a dream, perhaps Pierrot really represented Georges – his anger/suspicions/mannerisms and hidden nature.
    2. The scene in which Georges was editing – what we all thought was a live program – and altering it raised questions about the editing we do as individuals and the editing the media does to change reality and to make things less “conceptual” and more appealing. This also is a way that our sub-conscious changes memories to make them something we can live with.
    3. The last scene occurs just after Georges has taken a couple of sleeping pills and while on the phone he asks his wife to make sure that Pierrot “takes it easy on me”. And then in the next scene – he sees his son talking to Majid's son. This scene also has the same feel as the memories and those of the hidden camera. In addition, the taking of the pills makes me think that the dreams may have been chemically induce.
    4. Did anyone notice the scar near Majid's son nose that looked like a tear coming down his face?
    5. Did all the characters have something to hide? Anne? Pierrot? Pierre? Etc.?
    6. Is the whole film just a way to say that what is going on is and always will be hidden from us.
    7. I found the words in the swim practice very interesting from a pchycological perspective; (Don’t hold me to the exact words – “hold your breath when you (do the turn)”, “too shallow”, “too deep.” It would be interesting to know what scenes came directly before and after these words.
    8. There was something unreal about how Anne and Georges behaved during the swim meet. They were giggly, happy, excited and embracing – something that never happened during the film. I’m not even sure they ever touched each other during the entire film except in this scene although I could be wrong. In addition, their happiness in this scene seems completely out of character given the videos, etc. that they were dealing with at the time.

    I am way past my beadtime. Thanks to all that have taken part in this discussion.

    Dunn’s Done!

     
  • At 6:32 PM, Anonymous hanuman said…

    Re: Anne and Georges at the swim meet.

    I didn't notice anything odd aabout their behavior, but I did notice a young Arab kid with a video camera next to them. And this is before Majid's son is introduced....

     
  • At 11:31 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Ah, that's an interesting detail...

     
  • At 8:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I just found this post on Google and am not sure if people are still writing to it or not. Here it goes anyhow: Wanted to chuck a new dimension into the theorizing: when Anne and Pierre were having Lunch together and she was crying there was a creepy guy who was looking at them really obviously repeatedly. Hmmm...

     
  • At 10:24 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Hi. Today is February 2nd, and yes, a lot of the comments have been from the past week (I think it opened in the UK last weekend or summat).

    OK, so when I watch it again, here's what I'll be paying close attention to:

    -The swim coach (though Neda just saw it and said she's pretty sure the coach is not Majid's son (though she said he had a strong Moroccan-French accent), and the other comments above have pretty much convinced me he's not)

    -The young Franco-Arab guy with the camera sitting next to them at the swim meet

    -This guy in the background at lunch


    I should emphasize that I don't think the whodunnit is the most important part about the movie at all, I just have the sort of personality that likes to tie up loose strings.

     
  • At 4:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hi,

    about Majid's son being the swim coach

    after Georges turns up at Majid's apartment with the police, he says on the phone to Anne that majid and his son say they have never even heard of Pierrot.

    hope that helps and i'm remebering correctly

    B

     
  • At 8:46 PM, Anonymous Nystrom & Keeble said…

    A most intriguing movie that left us discussing for hours. Like most of the posters we're unable to come up with a definitive explanation, however we'd like to share some of our thoughts. We have been focussing mainly on the psychological perspective and left the political one aside for the time being, although we think both are valid approaches. We feel that the real analytical meat is in the former approach though.

    - We're not convinced that the entire story on Georges and Majid's common past is ever made explicit. It seems to us that what Georges told his wife is not nearly enough to motivate Majid's great outbursts of emotion and eventual demise. Throughout the entire movie it's very hard for Georges to talk about his past. It is true that this is a general tendency of his but it also hints at something much greater lurking in the shadows.

    - The possible significance of Georges' meeting with his mother only became apparent after watching the film. What exactly does Georges ask his mother? We recall a question like "Why didn't you adopt him [Majid]?"

    - We have been debating the possibility that Majid is an imaginary character, a figment of Georges' imagination (we're not unanimous on this). Supporting evidence: Georges is the only person who ever meets Majid, except for later when the cops come to his flat - at which point Majid's "son" opens the door. Later we see them riding in the police van, staring at each other's faces - but this could be interpreted as Majid's son's and Majid being the same person. Is Georges using Majid to cover up something he himself did as a child?

    - Eerie similarity between Georges' meeting with the angry biker on the street and the later meeting with Majid's son - similar phrases being exchanged.

    - When Georges comes back to Majid's flat (at the time of the suicide) arguably you would expect him to first of all look for a hidden camera - yet he does not. The camera angle here is exactly the one from the tape that was shot in Majid's flat, suggesting that the suicide is also being filmed - yet it doesn't seem to be. This, together with some similar sequences, blurs the dividing line between the in-movie camera and the director's camera, suggesting that the two sometimes overlap - or are they one and the same?

    Here's a totally new interpretation of the film, which doesn't appear to have been suggested by anyone thus far. This is the one that we believe is the most plausible.

    No one has yet fully discussed the "reality" of the film. Me must bear in mind this is cinema, not real life, and more to the point, the cinema of Michael Haneke. In Funny Games, a gritty, bleakly brutal film, time is "re-wound". Having been until this point practically realist, we are led to question what exactly we are watching, since its link with reality has been severed.

    At a number of points in Hidden we are led to question whether what we are watching is yet another shot or a "tape". Of course, they are essentially the same. This leads us to suggest that the videotapes are not sent by any person in the "cinematic reality" that the film takes place in, but are in fact placed by Haneke himself. The tapes then act as some sort of meta-cinematic device to instigate the intrigue and questions that follow. For example: Pierrot's actions seem standard for a twelve year old, yet a number of readings of the film have hinted that the creator/planter of the tapes was Pierrot himself based on some sort of paternal hatred. Also, in the scene where Anne and Pierre are together in the cafe, there is indeed a man looking at them continuously; is that really unnatural? She is crying and distressed. Is Haneke not only manipulating his characters, but also how his audience perceives the film, leading characters and viewers alike to question seemingly natural events? By doing this, Haneke puts the spotlight on how suspect and mysterious everyday life really can appear if there is reason to suspect it. Nearly everyone who has commented on this film must be aware of how many false leads and red herrings there are.

    A few more interesting points:

    - When do we first see the (supposedly) young Majib? We recall a very short (a few seconds) scene early on in which we have a handheld camera shot move towards a wall, turn and see a boy (sitting on a windowsill?) with blood coming out of his mouth. We can't quite place it in the film and its interesting that no one seems to have picked it up.

    We hope that this will offer a few new directions for discussion.

     
  • At 9:31 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Very interesting interpretation. What's your site?

    I am in the process of getting a dvd of the movie right now, so in a day or so I will watch it again and clarify a few of the open questions (just the factual ones, since my interpretation is no more or less right than anyone else's).

     
  • At 11:03 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Ah, OK, so I just rewatched the DVD. I am going to post a new post about this with pics, but here are my basic first thoughts;

    -At the end, Majid's son is waiting with the parents for Pierrot. When Pierrot emerges from the school, he runs up to him, they move a bit away from Pierrot's friends, and have a very intimate discussion for about a minute and a half. They part ways laughing.

    -There are multiple swim coaches. The first one has a strong Moroccan accent but is never pictured. There are three or four others in the other scenes. I don't think any of them are Majid's son.

    -In our comments we've started seeing Franco-Arabs in every background shot of the film. The guy next to Georges and Anne at the swim meet is a white teen. The guy staring at Anne at the cafe is a bald white guy.

    I'll post something fuller later...

     
  • At 5:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi, I'd also agree that the hollywood loose ends tied up approach is not particularly important to this film and that the sense of what is real, or not, is more at play. I found the conversation at the dinner interesting..remember the story abouot the dog and the guy said 'feel my scar' - it was a shaggy dog story that made everyone jump, but one of the guests asked 'did it really happen?' and there was a second pause, then laughter. Also, there seemed to be a big deal made about a writer writing a screenplay 'scenario'. At first it was said he was writing it, then George asked what the scenario was about, but the question was cast aside. I wondered was it some one of his creative friends setting him up to make (the actual) movie we were watching, a kind of suburbian blair witch...I think the film was briliant in that it raises so many questions which cannot always be answered so easily. Art imitating life imitating...and yes, the young boy coughing blood did exist, in dreams or lies or memory or did he really exist. Did it happen?

     
  • At 6:21 AM, Blogger Swift said…

    No one has mentioned the fact that one of the guests to the Laurent's dinner party at the beginning of the film is black... And this scene is just after the scene where George lays into the black cyclist... Is she there to confuse matters? Is she one of those 'token' black friends that people fall back on to when they claim not to be racist? Or is she, probably the most likely, simply a friend, regardless of colour?

     
  • At 2:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just watched the film in Montreal.
    A few points:
    There are some great ideas in these posts. I thought one of the most important scenes was when one boy kills a chicken and then walks towards the other boy holding the clever. Was this definitely Majib walking towards Georges? It looked like he brought the clever down on him. In Majib's apartment, Georges says something like, "What was I supposed to do? You were much bigger then me."
    And what was the deal with that bloody mouth anyway? It also showed up in the pictures. (Was Majid abusive with his own son?)
    Oh, and wasn't it odd that Georges' boss destroyed the tape? Maybe it held an important clue. That whole conversation was so weird. The boss was cold and mean. Georges was incredibly reverential.
    Re: Georges and his mother
    I had the impression they weren't close because--possibly--his mother blamed him for the loss of her adopted son.
    Overall I think the movie was more about the politics, though. There is are several scenes when the audience is forced to either listen to the news (of colonization hell), or characters' dialogue. The director is forcing us to ask which is more important for his cozy little cinephile audience, a whodunit all neatly wrapped up, or what misery we are all contributing to the world through the political choices we make, the governments we elect, etc.?

     
  • At 7:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    After watching this movie last night I had mixed emotions about it. I felt it was acted superbly, artisticly shot, but I did'nt fully understand it. I watched it by my self, after the movie finished I was inclined to turn to the people next to me and discuss it further. So after an evening and morning of not being able to discuss it with anyone I am a lot cleare after checking out all of your theories.

    The movie I now know is "oscar material" although it has been overlooked (for dubious reasons, director being Austrian and it being submitted by the French) There are so many interpretations of the meaning of the film which is excellent.

    This film, like all foreign movies doesnt explain (like hollywood movies) to the audience what exactly is going on. It is left to the audience to waych closely and think. I will be encouraging all my friends to see this movie, I to will see it again, It has so many tlking points that I've not experienced before.

    Everyone has commented on all aspects of the movie, but no one has spoke of the similarity of the the hand drawn pictures, Perriot and Manjits son may have known about the chicken(see picture of chickens head with blood spurting out) but they wouldnt have known that Manjit would slit his neck with a razor blade (see happy face with blood splurting out) or as I see it now, It may have been a hidden message to tell Manjit what he should do (who knows) These two scenes were possibly the best scenes I've seen in one movie. There are so many hidden messages in this and so many theories.

    I think Haneke has created a masterpiece. Wether he explains the movie to the audience or not it I believe will have them guessing and asking questions for years to come.

     
  • At 7:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks to the original poster for posting comments in the IMDb that I was able to find this thread for the same reason - after seeing this film last night, I was left utterly confused and frustrated that I wanted to see what was written online to explain the ending.

    And now having read these posts and thinking about it more, I think I'm able to accept what I think is the most likely. The videotapes are from the director, Haneke. The more I think about it, the more it makes the most sense. Even though it doesn't satisfy me given how conventional the setup of the story is.

    What ultimately makes me think this is that I believe the final shot to be another videotape. It fits with the others, including the one in the past where we see Majid being forced to leave Georges' estate. It begins without any pertinent action and ends without any pertinent action. So it isn't likely that the two sons are behind it, which is what I thought the final scene meant while watching it.

    So, what is left is why the sons are meeting. How do they know each other? Majid's son isn't a swim coach (as noted in earlier posts). And I still don't know. I think that is the interpretation Haneke is leaving up to the audience to guess. And it can be taken in either direction - positive or negative. Positive if they are simply friends, which gives hope to Algerians and French to get along. Negative if they end up repeating the history of their fathers. Or something else entirely for all I know.

    I believe that the videotapes aren't Georges' dreams or memories because I feel his dreams and memories are more explicit. The quick flashbacks of Majid as a boy with blood in his mouth. And the nightmare he wakes up from, where we see the chicken getting its head cut off in the past.

    And I do think Georges can't be trusted, even in his dreams. I also think he did something worse than he's confessed to Anne. After that nightmare scene, I kept thinking it was Georges who killed the chicken and terrorized Majid. Because that would be far more scarring to Majid and would better explain his uneasiness at being forced to think about their past when Georges goes to visit him. And so Georges' nightmare puts himself in Majid's place, which is terrifying. But that's reaching. I'm not certain of that, but I do think Georges did something worse to Majid than was said by him.

    Also, Haneke is behind the camera. And maybe had a hand in the editing, like we see Georges do with his TV show footage? That the videotape footage and the film footage are exactly the same also confirms for me that Haneke is behind it. But there could easily be holes in this theory. For now, I'm just happy to think I might be on to something. Ambiguity doesn't do it for me in film. I love it when filmmakers force the audience to think and even work at understanding what's before them. But only if they're given enough to work with.

    So I still have questions unanswered. And I think all the political pieces add interesting layers to the central story. But I can't help but be more interested (possibly even obsessed) in the core plot.

    Thanks again for all the posts that helped me get here.

    Karen.

     
  • At 6:06 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Very cool theories that I'll think more about.

    I'm glad this has turned into a pretty active forum for recent viewers of the movie (today is Feb. 10th, btw, since these comments don't get dates).

     
  • At 11:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Has anyone considered the possibility that Georges and Majid are half-brothers? I guess physical resemblances are in the eye of the beholder, but I was struck by the likeness of the two men in the first scene; this is underscored by Majid's comments about a) his recognizing Georges's distinctive nose on TV years ago for the first time (and again, Majid has a similarly shaped nose) and b) his mock surprise that Georges wouldn't recognize him on the street (which picks up the uncanny sense M seems to intend if the two men are brothers). Add to that the extremely uncomfortable conversation between Georges and his mother at the country estate: sure, it's uncomfortable stuff anyway, but the mother's chastising of Georges for bringing it up seems to signal at an even greater source of shame than sending M to an orphanage might normally call for. And if G's father is also M's father, it helps to explain why he would have felt so responsible for M, enough to adopt him. Finally, although the young Georges probably wouldn't have known it, the intensity of his jealousy of M might stem from at least the sense that something was rotten in Denmark.

    Anyway, I hate these kinds of crackpot theories, but this interpretive line stood out to me in the film, and it seems to be just about the *only* thing folks haven't brought up...

    I loved the film, too. A little over the top with the allegory at times, but a timely and powerful movie.

     
  • At 1:20 AM, Anonymous andrea said…

    Hi,
    Very interesting theories, I've just came back from watching the movie, and I'm glad I've found this site.
    Two more "clues" that weren't mentioned so far:
    1) G. tells A. that he LIED about Majid spiting blood, so those images seem to come from G's imagination.
    2) There is a scene in which G. is coming out of a movie theatre and all the movies that are shown there have the word "frere" (brother) in the posters!

     
  • At 1:23 AM, Anonymous Andrea said…

    Hi, two more "clues" that weren't mentioned so far:
    1) G. tells A. that he LIED to his parents about Majid spiting blood, so those scenes seem to come from G's imagination.
    2) There is a scene in which G. is coming out of a movie theater. All the movies in the posters have the word "frere" (brother) in their titles!

     
  • At 11:35 PM, Blogger molitov said…

    Feb. 17--I agree with those who take a bit less of a literal interpretation of the events. I'm an not so concerned about who is doing the taping and more interested in the themes of separation between family members, the minimalistic techniques used by Haneke to build such hightened tension, and the cultural tensions of the nation portrayed as the personal.
    But back in the literal plot world, an option I like to entertain is that there might be another child of Majid who we never meet/are made aware of. The end is open to various translations, when I watched it, I wasn't sure what was happening, but I suspected that Majid's son was introducing himself to George's son in a slightly sinister way. I was afraid there was going to be a replication of Majid's suicide, but this time it would be the casual murder of George's son in front of his classmates. I enjoyed the excrutiating suspense and at the end, when there were smiles and they parted, I thought--Majid's son is setting up Pierrot for some sort of reckoning later. But we'll never know. I don't think they are in cahoots.

     
  • At 2:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It was the mother

     
  • At 9:00 PM, Anonymous shawn said…

    this is a film that has to be seen on a symbolic and not literal level. hence i suggest we have to see the sender of the tapes as some sort of omniscient narrator who represents fate/destiny, the suggestion being that inevitably georges has to confront the sins of his past.

    i understand this is a bit of a copout, but the only 2 likely scenarios: (i) majid's son (ii) collaboration between majid's son and pierrot are just too far out to be believed.

    ultimately this film has to be seen as an allegory and not a whodunnit!

     
  • At 2:01 AM, Blogger Nick said…

    Just saw the film. So far, the theory that Haneke planted the tapes seems the most plausible to me. I think good evidence for this (other than that all of the other theories have gross contradictions) is:

    1. the videotaped "diegetic" footage is mostly indistinguishable from the narrative footage.

    EXCEPT that this fails to explain the final scene, with Hajid's son meeting Pierrot, convivially. But, how sure are we that the final scene has Hajid's son in it? I assumed it was Hajid when I saw it, but it was a long-shot. It could have been any young arab male (like the swim teacher). The photograph at the top of this blog is too blurry to tell. Does anyone with the DVD or who has seen it twice know for sure that this is Hajid's son?

     
  • At 8:11 AM, Anonymous Gijs van Dam said…

    I think I like Nick's explanation a lot. After seeing this movie i read quite a bit of reviews and the only conclusion is that the plot just doesn't add up.

    I think the last scene doesn't contradict this at all. We allready know that Hajid's son made contact with Pierrot, because Pierrot received a card at school somewhere in the beginning of the film. He thought this card came from his father, but he found out that it didn't after his father came to pick him up from school .

    Actually the last scene can be regarded as proof for this theory, because it's shot in the same way as the other videotaped footage. If one of the sons would have made the tapes, why would he tape his own conversation with his 'partner in crime'.

    The scene where George edits his own program, by cutting away a large part of the dialogue of one of the guests is symbolic for the power of the director, in this case Haneke. He shows us what he wants us to show. Moreover, he shows his own characters in his own movie what he wants them to show by placing videotapes at the doorstep.

    There are more refferences to this principal thought, throughout the movie. i.e. the news scenes from iraq are
    a example of western media showing us what they want us to show. The funny story during the evening with friends in which the guy talks about him being the reincarnation of a dog is all about giving the audience a certain idea about a situation by controlling the information that is sent to them.

     
  • At 2:37 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    I have the DVD of the movie (though without English subtitles, which is too bad, since my French is only so-so), and I can confirm that it is definitely, definitely, definitely Majid's son at the end.

     
  • At 5:39 AM, Anonymous Chris said…

    I saw Majid's son at the end as well. However, my girlfriend, claims she saw something else as well: Sometime after Majid's son exits screen right, she saw Georges walk from left to right past the bottom of the stairs, as if following Majid's son... As I say, I didn't see this, but if anyone has the DVD could they perhaps check and confirm/deny?!

     
  • At 4:18 PM, Blogger Nick said…

    Not to belabor the point. I think there are two coherent interpretations of the film.

    1. Pierrot and Majid's son conspire together. Evidence:
    a. they meet convivially at end of film. we should be surprised that they know each other at all.
    b. pierrot seems to know about his mother's "affair". This is suggested by binoche hugging Pierre. Cut to, surly son insinuating that she's having an affair.
    c. son disappears at critical moment.
    d. son also has no confirmed alibis (parents often wonder where he is), so might have been able to do some of the filming or delivery of the tapes.

    The disadvantage of this interpretation is that it's far-fetched. Can we really imagine Pierrot and majid's son conspiring this elaborate plot, including filming, childrens drawing and more? Is Pierrot old enough to understand the guilt of his father?

    Furthermore, issue 1.b. could be a deliberate red-herring. The montage has manipulated us into thinking these two events are related. But there is no direct evidence that these events are related at all. Note that the director draws our attention to the "fiction" of montage during the scene where George edits his own show to bring out an issue about homosexuality. (thanks, gijs van dam).

    Interpretation 2. Haneke plants the tapes. Although this makes no coherent sense within the narrative of the film, it makes sense for an art film which deliberately draws attention to the fact that it is a film. Evidence:
    a. the editing of George's show.
    b. the indistinguishability of the terrorizing footage to the narrative footage of the film.
    c. Deliberate red-herrings (maybe 1.b, 1.c, 1.d).
    d. This is a weaker point: Literally, Haneke did shoot the footage and did give it to the characters. I.e., he made the film!

     
  • At 4:56 AM, Anonymous ELB of Seattle said…

    I think a film such as this is best absorbed and not hacked to death with logical explanations. While Cache takes place much more in the real world than David Lynch's Lost Highway or Mulholland Drive, the films share a lot of common ground.

    Rather than come up with my own satisfying explanation, I'm going to allow the film to haunt my memory. I enjoyed watching the film, and I enjoy a director who doesn't feel it necessary to spoonfeed everything to the audience.

    Another work I'm reminded of is John Knowles 'The Magus.' Multiple explanations for various odd goings-on. What is important is not the understand everything perfectly but to absorb the experience.

    Do I have to 'understand' Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra to enjoy it? Do I have to 'understand' Kandinsky to enjoy looking at one of his paintings?

     
  • At 4:58 AM, Anonymous ELB of Seattle said…

    Woops - I meant John Fowles, not John Knowles...

     
  • At 1:20 AM, Blogger Nick said…

    Do I have to 'understand' Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra to enjoy it? Do I have to 'understand' Kandinsky to enjoy looking at one of his paintings?


    This is just a cliche. It is misleading to compare a work of 'surrealism' a la Lynch, which never pretends to have a coherent explanation, to Cache. Cache may be an art film, but it is adheres to the genre conventions of a whodunnit. The entire narrative structure of the film is designed to induce the audience to solve a mystery.

    It is possible that Cache is deliberately incoherent. But it surely is so in a way unlike Lynch. If all you do with Cache is "absorb the experience" then you miss the point. You're not supposed to absorb the experience of a political polemic.

     
  • At 3:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just a quick thought; maybe someone can run with this.

    The end scene, which is (presumably) someone filming the entrance to the school that Peroit attends, may actually be a police surveillance. If this is only a few days after Majid's death, it is likely that the police would keep tabs on George, especially considering the period of delay between the death and his reporting it.

    If this is the case, it makes sense that the figure in the foreground, following Majid's son as he exits left, is in fact Georges.

    I assume that everybody noticed that the two Daniels (Auteuil and Duval) were also in "36 Quai des Orfevres", a recent and highly enjoyable French film. I liked Daniel A. character so much from that film, that his protrayal of Georges really stung me. By the end of the movie, I had a strong dislike for the kind of self-centred and manipulative man that Georges represented.

     
  • At 7:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just a few quick additions to the discussion.

    Firstly, a clarification of an earlier comment about Anne. The suggestion was that she lied because she said she was having dinner with her boss instead of lunch. In Europe, it is common to refer to the mid-day meal as "dinner"; the word "lunch" is considered by some as an Americanism.

    Secondly, it suddenly occurred to me that Georges character was absolutely consistant - he truly was in his own little, self-absorbing, world. Putting together all the above comments - why he missed the camera outside his flat, why he didn't check for the camera inside Majid's apartment the second time he went inside, why he almost ran into the cyclist, why he didn't really engage with his guests on the show, why he would not have recognized Majid on the street, why he would not recognize the swim coach (if he was Majid's son), and why he couldn't converse with his Mother - it appears clear that Georges was so detached from the real world around him, that he probably would never be able to come to grips with his guilt and shame, for whatever he imagined that did.

    Finally, I think it is interesting that Georges son had a name that we all came to recognize very early in the story, while Majid's son's name was never mentioned. Plus, in the imdb credits for the film, this person is listed as "Majid's son". This can't be a coincidence. Maybe the director is firing home another clear indicator of the prejudice against the Algerian-French by not giving a name to that charactor.

    Thanx to all for sharing your ideas on the film - I enjoyed the discourse, plus I feel much better about what the film amy have been saying to me.

     
  • At 10:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just one detail: It is not a chicken that gets killed, it is a cock. This could have some relevance to the political intepetation of the film, as the cock is known as the symbol of France.

     
  • At 6:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Andrea: In the scene where G. appears in front of the cinema, the leftmost poster does not actually have frere in its title, it is "la mala educacion" by Pedro Almodovar. That may give a hint to the bad education that Majid's son says his father received after he was expelled from the farm.

     
  • At 6:37 AM, Blogger Serkan said…

    Pierrot planted the tapes.
    The last tape is delivered in the middle of the night, when they're having dinner with friends.
    Doorbell rings, father opens 1st door, opens 2nd door, stands outside a little while shouting, closes the outer door, but when he tries shutting the first, it jams. Only then does he notice the packaged tape.
    It's highly unlikely that he would miss the plastic bag with contents the first time around. And that 1st door really was close, until the package is planted in the door opening.

     
  • At 6:42 AM, Blogger Serkan said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 11:35 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Cache may be an art film, but it adheres to the genre conventions of a whodunnit. The entire narrative structure of the film is designed to induce the audience to solve a mystery.

    It is possible that Cache is deliberately incoherent. But it surely is so in a way unlike Lynch. If all you do with Cache is "absorb the experience" then you miss the point. You're not supposed to absorb the experience of a political polemic.


    Lol, nicely put, Nick.

    I thought I had a pretty good handle on this film, but people keep mentioning little details that I missed (such as the cock being France's national symbol, which, considering Haneke's heavy-handedness elsewhere, seems pretty plausibly significant).

    I just checked my DVD of the last scene, and there is a white guy who strolls across the screen after Majid, but it's definitely not Georges (and it's very lackadaisical). Kind of interesting that every Arab character becomes Majid's son in our memory and every white guy becomes Georges.

    Another thing, as I watch this scene again: Majid's son at first seems very agitated/worried about something, looking over his shoulder to make sure no one can hear, then pointing to himself and making big gestures. Then Pierrot, who is calm the whole time, says a few things and Majid's son seems very reassured, then laughs and pats Pierrot on the arm. It's hard to say, but it seems consistent with something conspiratorial, where Pierrot is in charge.

     
  • At 11:48 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Oh, and Nick, I agree that in some senses Haneke planted the tapes, but I think that someone in the universe of the movie must have also planted them. Like you said, this is too conventional a whodunit to suddenly become a pure art film all about filmmaking. I think that's one level the film works on, but it also works on a conventional narrative level.

    So I'd say both your interpretation 1 and interpretation 2 are correct, simultaneously.

     
  • At 10:43 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Today, btw, is March 7th, and folks are still reading and commenting on the page (I say the date just so new readers don't feel shy about commenting).

     
  • At 6:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I believe Georges himself made the tapes. His memories and strong feelings of betrayal haunts him and leads him to create his own nightmare. This is a trick of his inner emotions to confront his superficial life.
    If he has the tapes, this is a way to show the way he feels to the people close to him. Maybe that's why he first hesitates, then suddenly becomes so eager to show the tape to his guests after the doorbell. And maybe it explains why he is so interested in the screenplay?
    Majid's son says something of great importance when he claims he wished only to see how it is to have another man's life on his conscience. Obviously many other things happened between G and M in the past. G continuously blaming M for his present nightmare, but deep inside he knows it works the other way around.
    I believe many of the other things happening around G is everyday life and should not be speculated in. Why shouldn't Pierrot know Majid's son? When you feel something is going on, all can seem suspicious. That's why the film feels both natural and mysterious in the same time.
    This is what I felt the most natural after just seeing the film and I will need to see it again someday!

    Very interesting to read all the comments on the site!
    Hope you can understand this translation from my Norwegian thoughts :)

    -kyeplutten

     
  • At 7:28 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Ah, interesting, and possibly the only person we hadn't thought of.

    (very impressive English, by the way)

     
  • At 1:12 AM, Anonymous Patrick said…

    I just watched the film tonight and I'm so disturbed that I can't go to sleep yet.

    I am just curious if anyone else knows how Majid has Georges's cellphone number. I doubt it is the KEY TO THE GREAT MYSTERY but no one had mentioned it.

     
  • At 3:16 PM, Blogger Framescourer said…

    I just read this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_Flowers article on Wikipedia, which says

    "Least likely in real terms, but closest to the metaphorical and symbolic gesture of Jarmusch's film is that Don has sent the letter to himself. There are precedents for this. Both in the 60s TV series The Prisoner and in a film made subsequently to Broken Flowers, Michael Haneke's Caché, the protagonists resist a sinister and almost intolerable campaign against themselves. In neither scenario however is that resistant character able to identify his tormentor but he does achieve an unsuspected personal catharsis. In both the suggestion is that they have forced themselves into a situation in order to inescapably confront personal issues."

     
  • At 11:37 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Hm, I buy that as one level of meaning. The videos were sent because Georges needed to confront his past. I don't think that in the world of the film, Georges sent himself the videos, but I can see that as the symbolic and metaphorical meaning.

     
  • At 1:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I've been reading various posts and reviews about the film and one thing that really strikes me is everyone's sense of injustice at being denied some kind of "prosecution" of the bad guy by uncovering who it is.

    I think that's key to the overall political plot of the movie, the justice denied to the Algerians.

    The massacre of the Algerians is played out through the relationship between Majid and Georges. Majid is tricked into killing a cock, the symbol of France. It is Georges' fault yet who is first taken away and then driven to suicide?

    What also has to be borne in mind is Haneke's tendency to mess about with his own involvement with his characters as in the end of Funny Games. My feeling is that he is the one "sending" the tapes in order to create this confrontation with the past, or/and a confrontation between mainstream France (Georges and his wife are almost cliches off comfortable middle class) and their responsibility and culpability in the maintenance of an unfair status quo vis a vis Arab or minority communities.

    The meeting of the two sons ("brothers" by virtue of being people, as the film titles at the cinema might suggest) is, for me, a symbol of hope, that the sins of the father do not necessarily have to be visited upon the son.

     
  • At 5:29 AM, Anonymous crabmuffins said…

    Two of the videos include things being filmed from cars. So if it is someone real that did it, then they'd have to be able to drive. I don't know how old Majid's son is, but Pierrot is 12. If it was him filming, he'd have to have someone else driving the car for him.

     
  • At 9:12 PM, Anonymous Unicorn 7 said…

    I recently saw the movie. I agree that Georges was lying about what he did in the past to Majid. Maybe Georges was in some way responsible for Majid's parents' death as well. I do believe that someone was doing the videotaping and that not all the scenes were being taped - for example the last shot on the steps, the shots of the old house and the suicide. I believe the videotapes and phone calls are real. Georges's wife gets a strange call and both watch the videotapes. I also thought Pierrot must have gotten wind of his mother's possible affair with her boss and his whereabouts are constantly unknown - it is possible the two worked together but I don't know why. The blood coming out of the mouth in the pictures could symoblize the ramifications of lies and how it can cost lives. These are my rambling thoughts.

     
  • At 1:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hello
    Just saw the movie tonight with my sweetie. In the final scene, I thought I saw two people dressed in khaki colors and wearing dark shoulder bags. They appeared to be looking right at the two sons as they talked. Then they split just after the sons did. I guess they could be unrelated (to each other and to the plot) but could they also be the forementioned surveillence? Or something?
    More importantly, it's just another example of how we tend to start forming theories about everyone in the background, when they really may be just that -- people in the background. While I watched, I kept thinking how many of the scenes (particularly in public) could have been focused on anybody, and we are trained to zoom our eyes in on the "stars". When Anne calls from a party, she's standing way off to the right, while the screen is full of other guys talking, any of whom we could have chosen to listen to (similar to the "selective screening" of Anne and Georges vs. the TV news).
    Okay maybe that was all mularkey. It's just too much fun to throw these things about.
    -josh
    p.s. is anyone still reading this?

     
  • At 1:52 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Hey Josh, I think you posted this tonight (April 6) and yes, believe it or not, people are still reading this page every day (I think because it's linked on IMDB and Wikipedia).

    Anyhow, interesting point about foregrounds and backgrounds and how and why we focus on certain things because of conventions. It's past my bedtime, but maybe there's a connection to the anti-narrative fiction of Alain Robbe-Grillet, with his pure surfaces and methodical, dispassionate collection of physical details.

    I could look again at the people with shoulder bags. I suspect, though, that's it's our imaginations at work (kind of like how for a while everyone was remembering young Arab men in scenes when there were no young Arab men).

     
  • At 1:55 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Oh, and crabmuffins, good point about the tapes being filmed from moving cars. I hadn't thought of that. More evidence that it could not have been Pierrot alone.

     
  • At 4:25 PM, Anonymous Eutychus said…

    This is April 22 2006.

    The "Haneke as postman" theory does it for me. It reminds me of Sophie's World, and The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles, who has already been mentioned here. We have rented the DVD for 24 hours so maybe we should look again.

     
  • At 5:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    May 2

    Saw the film two days ago and cant stop trying to “figure it out”. I left the theatre with a feeling of something sinister about to happen: Majid Jr seems to have established a friendly contact with Pierrot and is now plotting to turn on him and hurt him. Or is the meeting a dream experienced by George as he slowly enters death by means of an overdose – the sons being friendly towards each other and resolving the conflict?

    A truly great film.

     
  • At 3:38 AM, Anonymous Robin Simpson said…

    I saw the film yesterday and found my way here seeking a better understanding. This discussion is very helpful and thought provoking and I am still busy replaying the film in my head.

    There was something I noticed that I don't think has been mentioned here yet. It may be another red herring but when Georges is telling Anne about Majid and what happened in 1961 he says:

    "It bothered me.I didn't want him in our house. He had his own room. I had to share, you see."

    Who did Georges have to share with? Did he have a sibling? Might this be the reference to 'brother' in the films showing at the cinema? Could this 'hidden' brother have been involved in what happened between Georges and Majid in 1961 and could he now be the one making the video tapes?

    And was there any significance in the reference to Aunt Julie in Marseille?

    (I found the Caché Script - Dialogue Transcript at http://www.script-o-rama.com/movie_scripts/c/cache-script-transcript-hidden-daniel.html very helpful in checking my memory of these exchanges.)

     
  • At 1:56 PM, Anonymous Frankie said…

    "The scene where George edits his own program, by cutting away a large part of the dialogue of one of the guests is symbolic for the power of the director, in this case Haneke. He shows us what he wants us to show. Moreover, he shows his own characters in his own movie what he wants them to show by placing videotapes at the doorstep."

    Have any of you watched any of Haneke's other films?
    I forget the author of that quote, but it has been brought up on numerous occasions that it is Haneke himself sending the tapes, I'd agree.
    Then I remembered his film, (1997) "Funny Games". Spookily enough, in a certain scene the woman hostage manages to reach the shotgun and shoot one of the two psychopaths. What then happens is the scene is "rewound" with the same video effects as Caché, and then the scene is replayed, but she doesn't reach the shotgun in time.

    In Funny Games, it's the main psychopath character that "rewinds" the film. I think this leaves it open as to whether it is Haneke or Georges making the tapes, but I'd shy away from suggesting that it could really be anyone else.

    Excellent film.

     
  • At 7:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi,

    What a fantastic page! the film just came out here in Australia last week, so I have come late to this party, I am glad to have found a page where plenty of my own thoughts have been previously aired.

    Whilst I enjoyed the whodunnit angle of this film, (covered in wonderful detail above), for me, I think the 'Hidden' of the title is raised most convincingly through the political agenda discussed in this film.

    I have a thread not previously covered in detail which I pose for consideration:


    Some previous posters have proposed that Georges must have done something in the past more terrible to Majid than he admits to - not just his lies as a child. I disagree with this point, in fact I think it is exactly the reverse which underscores the terrible travesty at the heart of this film.

    Georges act of childish self-preservation is what makes the film such an odd premise; Georges has done something terrible, but is not fully the architect of Majid's misery; the reality is that Majid was only put in the position he was in because the French state murdered his parents in a Police massacre.

    The tragic irony of this film, and a great sleight of hand by the fim maker, is that we will blame Georges for something that he is only indirectly responsible for, it draws our attention away from the real tragedy; that the position Majid is put into by the French state is so precarious that his life can actually be destroyed by a jealous child!

    The Papon Massacre in Paris is 1961, is the only factual event mentioned by name in 'Hidden', and having seen the film I wanted to learn more about it. According to the Wikipedia entry, this event appears to have a parallel with Georges lack of acceptance of responsibility; the Government of France have only slowly accepted in recent years the number of deaths attributed to the Police during this massacre, which some commentators believe could be as many as 200 people.

    Georges is an unsympathetic and self-absorbed character and is unwilling to atone or accept any of his personal responsibility for Majid's position; that Georges will not seek reconciliation, or accept his portion of blame, is fair enough from one perspective - how can he apologise for his actions from a time in his life when society would consider him an 'innocent'?

    However, this cointinued lack of atonement as an adult is what strikes the audience very differently, Georges inability to accept what he has done greatly affects our view of him.

    It is clear the film maker is making a point through Georges abrogation of responsibility as an adult. Georges lack of personal responsibility, and deflection of any kind of reconciliation (in fact the opposite: he threatens and harasses Majid with no evidence of his guilt), directly echoes both the abrogation of responsibility by the French State towards its colonial past, especially through such events as the Papon Massacre, along with a continued inability to reconcile itself in the present, as directly experienced by Majid as an individual through the character of Georges, and (in this case) French Arabs as a group.

    Would love to hear some thoughts on this.

    Cheers

    David Owen

     
  • At 10:03 AM, Blogger Hara said…

    I hope that people are still reading this thread as that in the part of Australia that i am the screenings will soon be coming to a close.
    I like the whole idea of Haneke letting us see what he wants us to see. A couple of points to back up the theory, in my opinion, are the scene where Georges is editing (which has been mentioned above)but also the way the film was shot.
    There is not much camera movement (especially in the first half), I can only think of about three scenes where there is any. These being where Georges picks up Pierrot from school and where he has the run in with the cyclist. But other then that the camera doesn't move alot. Which makes it harder to tell which scenes are the video tapes or the film camera. Overall we are trapped to see that which Haneke is presenting.
    What does this mean for the overall story plot? Not alot. I just thought it should be mentioned.

     
  • At 3:39 AM, Anonymous Vic Farrell said…

    Ok - NO ONE made the video tapes - no character in the story made the video tapes. Thes story is about revealing ugly history. The younger generation are digging it up and questioning the the generation responsible for the ill treatment of the Arabs. The video tapes are a metaphore for the modern re-surfacing of dark historical events, Marjid's son - says" I did not send those video tapes" ie: he is not responsible for raising this issue. The video tapes were a device to allow all the characters to see what was happening - in the public arena the media would expose the details. I think this is a brilliant film - it is not a whodunnit - but an allegory for the way France is dealing with the national guilt of past dark, careless, insensitive deeds. The meaning is bigger than the story of the characters. The final scene shows how the younger generation is building on the past for a better future. - well, that's what I think.

    Cheers,
    vic

     
  • At 1:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    May 24

    Robin Simpson recalled the lines:

    "It bothered me.I didn't want him in our house. He had his own room. I had to share, you see."

    Robin then hypothesises:

    "Who did Georges have to share with? Did he have a sibling? Might this be the reference to 'brother' in the films showing at the cinema? Could this 'hidden' brother have been involved in what happened between Georges and Majid in 1961 and could he now be the one making the video tapes?"

    My thoughts are was this brother killed by Majid when we see him walking towards the little boy after the cock has been killed?

    This may explain Majid being sent away and the adoption not happening.

     
  • At 11:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    May I suggest J Eric Miller's Decomposition?

     
  • At 1:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    May 27th. The film came out a couple of days ago in a small theatre in this Canadian city. I unfortunately have to say that despite my general adoration for film, I completely missed the revelation in the last shot of the film. I knew I had to look for it - I've been reading reviews for this film for a few months - and yet somehow still missed the confrontation. Anyway, my desperation for closure (like somebody else on this discussion I'm presently too spooked to sleep) led me here.

    Most of what I was thinking has here been pointed out, but I'd like to add that - and perhaps this is just because I finished watching the television show Nowhere Man, which is pretty much entirely paranoid conspiracy theory - I found it very, very strange and disconcerting how Georges seemed to be abnormally interacting with people. I don't know why, but aside from the obvious frightening moments the moment that's haunting me the most is when Georges friend doesn't seem to remember anything about the script scenario during the dinner situation. I'm confused as to what made Georges' asking what it was about such a difficult question to answer - it seemed like Georges was part of a separate reality that wasn't distinguished in the film.

    I think it's wonderful that Caché (which I loved and adored but found so unbearably painful to watch) generated such a buzz that it's come to the point that we're dicussing every detail. Either we're overanalytical or the film has the most complex and deep ("too deep"?) script I've come across.

    Whoa.

    K

     
  • At 8:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    As I know very little about french history, I must say that the references to the Algerian massacre were lost on me. I have found this discussion most enlightening.

    I do have a theory of my own to offer.
    I find it unlikely the the sons would have depth knowledge of the events that led to M being sent away.
    George comments to his wife that he told his parents that M was bleeding from the mouth - which would imply TB. This may have been the impetus for the parents to eject him from the family, this also builds on the racsist implication - ie disease carrying immigrant.

    As a side note it is possible that George sabotaged M's food with broken glass or other to enhance his lie. Hence the guilt and imagery of the child bleeding from the mouth.

    When george is talking to M. M states that he is aware that he knows that his mother is unwell. This implies that he has seen and spoken to her.

    If M has explained the events that transpired - ie the treachory of George with the rooster, and the bleeding mouth. It is possible that the mother sought to hold George accountable.

    Then again...

    I have no idea really..

    Cheers,

    Ludi

    Melb Australia.

     
  • At 11:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just saw Cache last night. It was a poorly written and poorly realized piece of pseudo 1960's oblique arthouse crap.
    Stop overanalyzing this boring and tedious movie. The writer director obviously got lost on the way and that's why it's so confusing. It's not filmaking brilliance, just a bad film that doesn't work as either a good thriller or social commentary. Why does the audience have so many questions? Beacuse there are so many holes in the badly written and directed narrative that it's painful to watch. It's more painful to read all the overanalysis that's posted on the web.
    Stop wasting any more braincells trying to figure out something that the writer/director was too lazy to try to make coherent in the first place. French and confusing doesn't equal good.

     
  • At 8:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I watched Caché last night. Thank you all for helping me see things I overlooked. However, after having read 1/3 of the comments above, my feeling is: as we spend more time trying to find clues for the overall meaning in the details, we lose the meaning altogether.
    I´d prefer to explore meaning in the connections with other life aspects of each one of us.
    The thought that comes to my mind is related to the book I am currently reading: Edgar Morin, "Vidal et les siens", a biography he makes for his father Vidal. I much appreciate the title given in the Brazilian translation: "A dot in the hologram: the story of Vidal, my father".
    Taking this metaphor to the film, I see the dialogue between Pierrot and Majid´s son as a dot in the hologram, containing past, present and future.

    Sergio Storch, Brazil.

     
  • At 7:13 PM, Anonymous Am said…

    Hmmm... I got a call near the end of the movie from my cousin who is a movie buff. I told him the movie was confusing and I only had a couple of minutes left. I did notice the two talking at the end of the moive. I mainly felt that George was planting the videos or his son Pierrot. It's hard to really conclude who did what - I would have to watch the movie again and I doubt I can conclude any better. That swimming contest was an interesting scene. I noticed the girl on the left got sad when Pierrot won the race while the parents and the Frech-Arab kid on the right were happy. This movie is a thinker... I'll be resting on it for a bit and then I'll have a long conversation with my couz.

     
  • At 9:48 PM, Anonymous Helena said…

    (I’m Brazilian, so please ignore the bumpy English)
    June 21st. Saw it in a movie theater yesterday, here in Rio, and can't wait to buy the DVD (as the compulsive collector that I am). I must say I loved it. A multi-layered film surely to float around my mind for quite some time. None of the theories listed above are DEAD ON, nothing is written in stone and each person saw their own movie. When the story isn’t spoon fed, what you see and what you make of things are determined by the way YOU have learned to interpret things around you. Therefore, it’s an individual (and delicious) experience.

    In MY movie, for instance:

    1. Georges and Majid could be half-brothers - at the very least in Georges’ imagination, totally compatible with a 6 year old. I felt it strongly throughout the entire movie (maybe because the flash-backs portion reminded me so much of “The kite runner”).

    2. The cock killing – the ‘France’ reference was lost on me. However, here in Brazil it would have been done with his bare hands, just twisting and breaking the neck swiftly. It’s brutal, but not bloody. So, to ME, it left a strong feeling of unnecessary cruelty (even if it’s in fact less painful). Also, it’s important to mention that it is indeed part of Georges’ creation of an image of how bad Majid could be, in an attempt to minimize his own actions.

    3. Elements of what Majid, as a boy, does (like charging up in a menacing way towards Georges) are Georges’ actions. A man who not only lies to his wife about what really happened between him and Majid, but also to himself. His memories/dreams are the lies he’s been “chewing” for the past decades. When he faces Majid in the present he claims that “you were older and stronger than me” and “I had no choice” (or something of that effect). In that conversation Majid makes an allusion to the fact that he recognized Georges on TV because of the nose, that maybe he broke in a fight they had in which Georges then attacks Majid with the little ax causing Majid’s to bleed. The same way cocks were sleighed at the estate, and also the same way Majid decides to end his life, “finishing the job” Georges started so many years before and finally granting him that wish.

    4. Throughout his fabrications, Georges tells his wife that he pretended his father wanted the cock killed. He tries to soften his story by saying that the cock was a nasty bird, evil and always attacking them. That serves also the purpose of showing how his brain works, and that once the “nasty, evil” Majid was in his way, getting rid of him was the natural step to take.

    5. When we see Majid being sent away it is through Georges’ point of view, while hiding in the dark, swollen by his guilt yet incapable of taking back whatever lies drove his parents to sending Majid away.

    And the list goes on and on…at times agreeing and/or disagreeing (even simultaneously) with what has been said here so far, or seeing different things altogether. In short, seeing my own “Caché”.

    Cheers, Helena.

     
  • At 12:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It kills me that that just because the swim coach was apparently Franco-Arabic, we automatically assume that it has to be Majid's son. In case this wasn't obvious to anyone yet, the theory that Majid's son is also the "Franco-Arab" swimcoach is disgustingly racist.

     
  • At 3:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm really not sure but the scene where Majid's son confronts Georges seems important...

    Majid's Son: I wondered how it feels,
    a man's life on your conscience.

    Georges: That's all?

    Majid's Son: Now I know.

    How can he know how it feels if he hasn't done anything?

    Also, as pointed out on IMDB there's a shadow of a camera in the scene where Georges pulls in and parks the car, I feel this would be intentional as the rest of the film is so detailed why would the filmakers overlook it?

    What does it all mean? it's driving me crazy!!!

     
  • At 7:11 PM, Blogger kelly. said…

    5th July

    I read all this commentaries about how Majid's son could have plotted the videos and all, with or without Pierrot's help.

    What struck me as odd was the fact that, if Majid killed himself because he felt troubled due to the tapes (obviously because the accusation and the contact with Georges and his childhood memories), wouldn't his son feel guilty about it?

    When Majid's son confronts Georges, he talks about how his father gave him a good education, which means he was a good father, I suppose. If he knew that his actions had droven his father to kill himself, I don't think he would've looked so calm.

     
  • At 1:42 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    July 13

    Great comments.

    Helena, I agree with a lot of your observations, that the memories are distorted by Georges' guilty conscience (or just time).

    Anonymous, I think we established early on in these comments that the swim coach was not Majid's son. He's seen from far away and looks very roughly like Majid. Perhaps a red herring to draw out the viewers' racism that "they all look alike"? Or perhaps just a coincidence.

    And Kelly, that's a great point that Majid's son would feel distraught and guilty about his father's death if he had caused it. I hadn't thought of that. Though then again, you'd think he'd be more upset than he was even if he wasn't a conspirator...

    And by the way, most of you guys reading this have just seen the movie, but I have now been thinking about the movie since last December, and I still haven't figured it out. Heh.

     
  • At 1:21 AM, Anonymous kimi said…

    Just saw the film for the first time at a michael haneke retrospective in new york. The whole video thing was like Lost Highway and in that the man who sent the videos was his conscience. so...
    The answer should be in the movie, not just written in by imagination alone and it was. Remember the postcard sent to the son at school? It was signed from dad and i don't think it was just some lie, i think it is the answer to the whole thing so it's not like, 'we'll never know' thank goodness! when i remembered the card i thought that was total confirmation on the 'it's him doing it all' theory.

     
  • At 3:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Does anybody say something about the scene of Pierre and Anne in the coffeshop. Anne is crying about the fact of the terrible way to kill Mathilde, Pierre's wife...If i am right, this gives a changes to the meaning and maybe all the plot is a failed strategy to get Georges crazy and kill Mathilde in order to go away together Pierre and Anne...

    ????

     
  • At 5:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So I am a late addition to this blog.

    Okay so during this one random scene Binoche (anne) is at a business party where there is a lot of backround noise. If you listen to the two men on the right (her man friend/boss and another loud gentlemen) they are discussing french social theory. The one man says he likes Baudrillard (among others whom contribute similar theories but am not well read on). Now I happen to have read some Baudrillard and his major contribution to social theory is the simulcrum. The simulcrum is this concept of a reality based off of a copy of the real so that what was once real is forgotten. A handy concept for this film because likewise we are left baffled with each turn of what is really going on. I believe that no one really is meant to know what the actual events are. Like the editing of Georges show, whereby the audiance will only know the edited version to be real, the viewer of caché is thrown through so many odd editings, verbal exchanges, and chance viewings that in the end no one true story line can be rendered manifest. I do believe that the various camera angle parallels between the mysterious filmers camera and "true" film scenes is good supporting evidence. There is no irony in this film, no secrets divulged for the audiance only rather this is the opposite. Here we have George, Anne, Pierrot, Majib etc each with a private and never fully told reality. What are we left with? Incomplete truths, holes that are filled with the imagination, thus a false real.


    Hmmm so that is my theoretical contribution I suppose. I have followed the many other lines of possible plot... they all fall through at some point. The son and son one works only to a point (two of the mystery films were filmed in the driver's seat of the car, the son must be the one to plant the one video in the door for who else could put it there.. but what would drive a 12 year old boy to cause his parents such pain and through such an coniving manner....) Anyways because all these other plot lines have holes I am more inclined to read this film in a much more abstract manner... and for the writer to put french social theorist's in it makes the light in my head go off in favor of that direction... Okay!! HAVE A GOOD TIME

    Ender Hegemonié

     
  • At 12:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Three things that haven't been fully mentioned. One, the movie isn't just Frere but Deux Freres (if memory serves me)--2 brothers. Maybe there were two brothers. Secondly, just because G tells the story of the cock, why are we so sure it is M with the cleaver? Third, I found it odd that in editing the tv show, you hear something along the lines of "let's go to the part where he says he's homosexual" or something to that effect. Does that have importance? Hope the posts keep coming...

     
  • At 5:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    August 4

    Personally, I think the film is entirely political, with even the more abstract elements such as G's video editing serving as an allegory for the selective memory G and France seem to have for the crimes they committed against the Algerians.

    I think an interesting point is that Majid and Georges could have both lived peacefully as 'brothers' within their parents' estate, but Georges felt that he had to look out for his own interests, and so screwed over Majid, just as France screwed over the Algerians.

    The lack of resolution in the movie actually has a point: Haneke himself does not know what is going to happen with the next generation. Thus, Haneke deliberately left the final scene ambiguously 'ominous' or 'optimistic' depending on your perspective.

    Given Majid's willingness to commit suicide solely to show Georges what had been done to him, or perhaps to hurt G psychologically (which I believe is a reference to suicide bombing, or terrorism, or desperation in general), I don't think the crimes of Georges' past will simply disappear for Pierrot.

    As for the hidden camera aspect, I see two plausible explanations. First, it could be that Majid and his son simply deny the wrongs that they are committing, just as France denied the wrongs it committed against the Algerians at the time. This leads to a more ominous ending as Majid's son meets Pierrot, as the son is taping the encounter just as Majid taped his encounter with Georges.

    The second explanation is that the camera's represent an all-seeing entity such as God, truth, or a collective social conscience. Despite Georges' deception, the 'camera' sees all and does not forget the truth. While Georges lies to Anne and himself to prevent undue 'stress', and he rewrites his past in his dreams to create Majid as the bad guy, the camera sees that past as it really happens, as in the shot in which Majid is taken away. Furthermore, the camera is still watching at the end when Majid's son and Pierrot meet, implying that it will still be watching in the future.

    -Aj from Tennessee

     
  • At 11:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    are people still commenting? The film just became available as a rental on a DVD in Canada and I watched it the day it came out (ie last night). The film is typically Postmodern in its Postclonial didacticism and multiple narratives, no easy answers aimed at instigating key questions that become the sort of subjective answers in themselves (what we see is produced by how we think, who we are,, etc). It is a sort of guessing game which is fun to play.
    I am intrigued by what Georges did to Majid. Someone here mentioned that Georges creates his own reality and decieves the people close to him quite a bit- I wholeheartedly agree. I was led to believe that Georges somehow caused majid to 'be sick'or appear to be sick. Note that in the first flashback Majid as a child sits on a windowsill beside (what I remember after viewing the movie only once- and I may be wrong) broken and shattered glass (this reminds me of injuries that were caused by having eaten glass). When Georges first confronts Majid in his apartment, Majid also mentions "I remeber that nose" and makes a convival punching motion suggestive that the nose may have been broken. Someone mentioned Geroge's comment "What was I supposed to do? You were much bigger and stronger than me then". I am tempted to think Geroges in a desperate attempt to make Majid appear sick does something to him (hides glass in his food?). This in turn, as majid is a troubled child who just experienced a trauma of his partents disappearing) makes Majid angry, and he takes ravange by having perhaps actually bringing the cleaver down on George's nose (blade side up) after killing the cock. Another option is that the events may have been reversed- majid scares georges, georges somehow makes Majid sick. This can also of course be seen in allegorical terms: the 'sickness' (psychological pain)may have been caused by Georges' lies and dislike for his potential future brother. This would be consistentwith the action-consequence lesson present in the movie: a chain, or a cycle of hatred and revange. Everyone assumes that the last scene was literally a last scene or a final event in the narrative structure: why? I also agree that Majid's son somehow tipped off Pierrot about Anne's "affair." It is interesting that I did not think Anne was having an affair with her boss, not yet anyway, he was there for emotional support that her husband was unable to offer- generally that's how affiarts start- but at that stage of events they definitely behaved as old friends (a bit enthusiastically on the boss' part, I agree). It is interesting that males thought that this had a sexual meaning whereas females didn't- I am a female!
    Thanks,

    "Ali"

     
  • At 2:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    After much thought, and reading this analytically precise review:
    http://www.notcoming.com/reviews.php?id=486
    I am inclined to think Majid attempted suicide which symbolically is the ultimate act of self-annihilation, that Georges witnessed as a child (the 1st flashback of Majid as a child sitting on a windowsill with broken glass behind him). Did he try to eat glass? This eery image is truly haunting. This novel interpretation would have all sorts of symbolic implications and cast a new shadow over the boys' relationship.

     
  • At 3:07 AM, Blogger Samantha said…

    Aug 16, 2006
    I apologize for the forthcoming jumbled thoughts, but it's late! I'm in the US and just recently rented this through Netflix. I love that this site is here!

    After reading all of the different theories, I don't feel so badly about not really having it all figured out myself. It's definitely something I'm going to have to watch again. But, I'm leaning toward the idea of G & M being half-brothers. Also, I think that G is a representative of France. It seems that the view of how France has handled the massacre mirrors how G explains away his "lies" he told when he "was only 6". He is now only in his older age being forced to confront his past actions.

    Additionally, M represents Algeria as treated by France. (Maybe a look at what Algeria would have been like if it remained a French Colony?) But the sons, who would then be cousins, could represent a forth-coming brotherhood for the future.

    I did find it odd that M knew about the mother's illness ESPECIALLY bc (if I recall) the mother said she hadn't thought about M in a very long time. How else could he have possibly known she was sick?! This made the half-brothers theory really fit for me. I thought possibly they shared a mother, not a father. Though there does seem to be a strong pull toward a "sins of the father", if the boys are at all related it would HAVE to be maternal bc there isn't a woman in the world that would take in her husband's mistress's child and maintain contact with him all these years!

    I think it all fits together somehow, but I lean toward each main character as a country's representative. Also, I think it's M that cuts the head off the chicken indicating the severing of Algeria from France as a territory.

    As far as the video... I'd like to think it's the boys in cahoots. Maybe Yves was M's son? M's son had to have a mother...

     
  • At 5:27 AM, Anonymous James said…

    And so the debate rages. Having digested all the posts, a better rationale is forming. But I would like to throw a couple of minor spanners in the mix:

    1) Pierrot - is another term for farceur, jester, and more siginificantly, puppet. So who is being manipulated? Pierrot himself? US the viewer of the movie? Or US by what the media presents us.. or our governments tell us?...

    2) George's edit of the 'live' TV show has him switching the conversation to a focus on homosexuality. Have we missed something here? Did George and Majid have a closer 'relationship' than we realised? Hence his inability to deal with the 'truth'.

    Additionally, perhaps George subconsciously named his son after his own shattered identity - Pierrot. George does exist in his own world. He cannot enter reality, buut exists outside of it. He cannot disguise right from wrong... so became his own pierrot.. his own puppet.

    James

     
  • At 6:11 AM, Blogger karasu said…

    I woudl be terribly dissapointed if it turned out that Georges was y sending the videos to himself. That's incredibly cliche, and also impossible because one of the tapes was delivered to their home as they were eating dinner. I can really only see two logical explantions myself, both simple. I think Georges was right and it was either Majid or his son. I can't see any other explanation for the footage recorded in their apartment and outside of the school. Nor do I believe that Pierrot would be so well informed about the darker aspects of his father's past.

     
  • At 4:42 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    September 4, 2006

    It's almost a year after I wrote the original post, and this page is still getting at least 100 people a day reading it (so please feel free to continue commenting).

    I am intrigued by the Pierrot="puppet" thing above, and the recurring homosexual theme, which I totally missed.

    Also, check out the rest of our blog... There's a 'best of' on the right...

     
  • At 10:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just a hint (not exactly a clue, but maybe...): in the subway sequence in Code Unknown, there's three of the four principal characters of Cache: Anne (Binoche, as an film actress), Majid's son (as a young Arab who harassed her and spit on her face) and Majid (as the man who's defending her). Very interesting.

     
  • At 10:38 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    September 22

    Are those really the actors? That's interesting. I saw Code Inconnu way before Cache and didn't make the connection.

    That subway scene is one of my favorites in any movie ever. It's so utterly devastating.

     
  • At 1:50 AM, Anonymous neko43 said…

    4:32 AM Anonymous asked:

    Majid's Son: I wondered how it feels,
    a man's life on your conscience.

    Georges: That's all?

    Majid's Son: Now I know.

    How can he know how it feels if he hasn't done anything?


    I think you're misinterpreting. Majid's Son was asking how Georges felt; he blamed him for Majid's suicide. Georges' response -- and his actions up to that point -- confirmed for Majid's Son that Georges felt no responsibility, no remorse.

    As for the rest of the debate: i think it's fairly pointless to attempt a "reality"-based solution. There are enough random scene snippets to prove that one character or another could not have been the stalker. I personally like the PoMo "Haneke as stalker" "solution"...it nicely reinforces the overlapping themes of 'selfish memory editing' and 'the director revealing what he wants when he wants'.

    This film also certainly enlightened me on Franco-Arab relations -- or at least sparked an interest to find out more, since nothing specific was explained, really. It changed my American perspective on Continental race relations, and helped put the more recent Parisian riots in a different light.

     
  • At 7:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    October 12th-

    I think this topic might be becoming exhausted, so I'm just going to share the effect that the movie had on my dreams the night after I saw it.

    For the whole night I felt like everyone in my life was watching me sleep, gathering information about me from my dreams and using it against me. At the end of the dream "my wife" (I have no wife) shot me in the head, but I didn't die. Instead I walked around bleeding from the wound wondering wither or not I was going to die.

     
  • At 11:23 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    October 20th-

    Anonymous Oct.12th, you were our 100th comment. I just wanted to mark the occasion and say that I really liked your comment.

    I like the idea of taking the discussion in a somewhat different direction (unless new readers, of whom there continue to be about 100 every single day, are inspired to continue exploring the ending). So, dreams.

    I unfortunately hardly ever remember my dreams, but I think your dream could be a parable about the legacy of French colonialism. The country bleeds from its head and staggers around wondering if it's going to die. A slow, bloody, demise, instigated by its own family.

    If, that is, you were French, which I don't think you are. Heh. So it's perhaps a symbol of how this movie was like a shot to the head? Or perhaps you just have bedbugs?

    I'm just throwing ideas out there.

     
  • At 12:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    When I go to a restaurant, I do not want the waiter to spoon-feed me. On the other hand I do not want the waiter to hide my entrée under the floor, expecting me to lift the carpet and pry up a floorboard to get to it. In my opinion, this director went too far in the direction opposite from spoon-feeding. I understand why he did it (after all, the film's name is Hidden) but I don't recommend this film to my friends.

     
  • At 11:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I watched the film last night on DVD, and needed to hear what others thought about this film. I went online and found this website. People have posted lots of interesting insights and ideas about what "really" happened.

    There is no explanation that puts all the pieces together without gaps or pieces left over that don't fit.

    This movie is like the M.C. Escher drawing called “Relativity” with all the stairways going off in different directions. If you look in any one place in the drawing, you can start to make sense out of it, but once you have an orientation set, the rest of the drawing doesn’t fit. The result is that you can’t stop staring at it, because your mind so desperately wants to find a coherent view of what it sees.

    I think Hidden is so fascinating simply for the reason that there is no single explanation that fits with all the pieces. Like Escher, Haneke Has assembled pieces that suggest a single coherent view, when there is none. The movie is an optical illusion.

    Chouwalker

     
  • At 10:58 AM, Anonymous Alex said…

    I saw this last night, and I’m glad to find a discussion of it, as I loved the movie and have been puzzling over it all morning.

    I agree with the posters above who don’t think there’s a conventional solution to the puzzle. The filmmaker is always “hidden” behind the camera – both in the film reality and ours – so there’s no way to prove who he is… And that seems to be the point.

    But what impressed me most about this movie was the pacing of the revelations. The audience begins to unravel bits of the puzzle a few scene before the film does – we start jumping to conclusions based on the footage we’ve seen, and those early suspicions are wrong. The effect was dizzying in the best way.

     
  • At 9:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hey, come on... get out of your nut shell. Not all the movies needs to be so basic as Hollywood like to think. If you like those go and get a Bruce Willis movie. "long, boring, faux-artsy and confusing": things are not confusing in itself, they are only confusing in relation with the one that tries to explain it.

     
  • At 12:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Long, boring faux-artsy, and confusing indeed. I assumed, and I'm sticking with this until definitively proven otherwise, that "Majid's son" is Yves. Remember how Pierrot goes to Yves' house once a week? And how Anne has to look up the number for Yves' house and speaks to Yves directly? Clearly she doesn't know him or his family (and while she saw Majid on the tape, she never saw or spoke to his son, so it's unlikely she would recognize his voice.) Pierrot doesn't really refer to him as a friend, he just says he's helping him with his geometry. Does that mean that the two of them are in collusion to send the tapes, or that Pierrot has hidden a camera at Yves' apartment? Who knows. For all the colonial guilt he's heaped over Georges for the entire movie, Haneke also gets his digs in at workaholic parents who don't know what their kids are up to.

     
  • At 11:42 AM, Anonymous David Heslin said…

    This is my slightly left-field theory about Hidden.
    I wonder if it is supposed to be an elaborate metaphor about the mindset of many post September 11, the feelings of paranoia, and blaming events on ‘foreigners’. Of course, this would have to be quite subtle, but the news footage about the War in Iraq made me think of it.

    I also think the explanation of Haneke being the observer makes sense. The last scene to me seemed to speak more of a way of showing that Majid’s son and Georges’ son are NOT responsible, as the shot appears to be being filmed.

    As for whether or not Georges finally tells the truth at the end, I think he does. His words finally agree with the dreams that he’s been having. Also notice that he never actually lies to his wife about those events… he just doesn’t explain them fully (e.g. he says that he ‘told lies, the usual things kids lie about’). So it makes sense that he’s telling the truth at the end. It also seemed pretty obvious that Majid’s son was telling the truth when he said he wasn’t behind the videotapes, so that’s why I’ve never been comfortable with the idea that he and Pierrot were behind it.

    Also, the suggestion that the ending is a positive one is strange. It would be somewhat hypocritical for a 12 year old kid to get all morally superior about something his father did at a younger age, especially when it can be seen that Pierrot is pretty selfish in his own behavior (e.g. not calling his parents). Therefore, if Pierrot and Majid’s son were working together, the former at least was probably not working for particularly noble reasons.

    As for the last scene, it seems possible to me that the pair were meeting for the first time. Majid’s son might have given up on talking sense to Georges so tried to reach his son instead? Or perhaps he even had more sinister intentions, even trying to avenge his father’s death by hurting Georges’ son.

    I'm probably not right, but I thought I'd throw these thoughts in because they haven't really been mentioned yet.

     
  • At 6:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I've just seen it for the second time and Solomon Grundy, why you've mined the seam. Keep on truckin'. Barry "The Walrus" Bernsberg

     
  • At 2:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I read about halfway down of all of the comments on this film, forgive me i am at work so I don't have a ton of time to read or comment--as far as from what i read, there was no comment on this fact (which leads me to believe moreso *including the final scene* that Pierrot had to do with the tapes.)

    In the scene with the dinner party, (this stood out in my mind the whole time after i saw it) when the doorbell rings, Georges goes outside. He screams to the air asking who is out there. He looks straight ahead towards the place where he was filmed before and then turns around to go back inside.

    I was waiting for him (as he opened the door to find a tape, or at least look at the doorstep with anticipation-- but he did not.)

    As he is headed back inside, he tried to close the front door to his house. The door gets stuck on something... a video. (This is the one with the chicken head and blood picture.)

    If he had walked out, and the tape originally been there, he would have tripped or stepped on it for sure, there is no way it could have just been lodged between the two doors after he has opened the door with no problem.

    Here's why i think it had to do with Pierrot . His friends are all inside, we have not heard a peep from their son, yet someone was able to come from behind and place the tape in the doorjamb. (at the same time they were able to ring the doorbell.) i have a feeling that he was able to ring the bell, come in and hide somewhere (only he could know the best place to hide within his own house. Since there is a place you half to walk down to the front door, it gave him the time to do so.

    That was something and the handful of scenes that showed the young Majid with blood on his mouth, that kept me wondering.

    I knew something was to be seen at the end and i kept searching the people and saw the scene between the sons at the end. I swear that Majid's son came out of the school with Pierrot but i will have to revisit that.

    One thing i also wondered was how Pierrot knew about his mother's possibly infidelity. The confrontation leaves me with an absent feeling about the whole situation, i just know that he went away still not believing her.

    What was the intention of the scene where Georges is watching the news and Anne interrupts yet the tv is still the focal point, I don't even really know what they were discussing during that scene because i was trying to find what was "hidden" in that part.

    *****granted, these are all just ideas that had entered my mind, i have only seen it once (part last night and the last 15 minutes here at work) I have not taken any super duper read into that film class, I am only 26. I do have a lot of world experience and have been witness to my father slitting his wrists in front of me. (thank God my father lived.) I took that scene as a personal part and took myself through the feelings that his son felt and how it was utter confusion for himself as well (as it was for me.)

    Walking in Majid's son's shoes (as i would feel it, from my experience) you just want to know what happened, why someone would do such a thing, and if you find the triggers to the suicide, you want to make sure it doesn't happen again.

    It made sense to me that he confronted Georges, because i would have wanted to do the same, but probably would have taken me longer... because my dad's attempt was all of a sudden... which left me to think that he has known about this problem with his father for a very long time and had seen signs of trouble to come.

    He did not have an emotional state of instability, more of a state of "ok, i knew my father was going to do this, just didn't know when...so now that it has happened... how do you feel? How does it feel to be responsible for someone's death?" and when Georges has no real answer for that he realizes that nothing will fix what a horrible person he is...

     
  • At 2:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    ps... if anyone wants to respond to my comment from above, my name is vanessa.

     
  • At 11:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My interpretation on first viewing:

    The dying mother is the culprit and here's why...

    1. She's almost cold to her son, and not too forgiving about the fact that she knows nothing about him or his life.

    2. Also, remember that she doesn't like to think about those early times either. She basically denies even remembering the adoption she'd gone through.

    3. In the scene where the kid is being put into the car, he's kicking and screaming, and the women leave very quickly and go back inside. It's the man, presumably her husband, who shoves the kid in the car. Could there have been a disagreement over the decision to send him to an orphanage?

    4. Her motive, quite simply, would be that she blames her son for what happened. She resents his busy life, his disconnected marriage and family, and especially the fact that someone so shallow could prosper so well. I mean, look at her son!, he's in t.v. for christsakes. His JOB is to where a false smile all the time.

    5. So, what about Pierrot? He's in on it. He's working with the old woman. There's no way that videotape on the doorstep could've appeared without having been put there by someone IN the house.

    6. What about Majid's son? He's in on it as well. The last scene illustrates that better then anything. Additionally, the videocamera in Majid's house would've had to have been planted. Whether or not Majid was in on it, I really can't point one way or the other.

    Anyway...if we're looking for a clear culprit, I'd say her. Her motives are too clear and it fits the perfect sort of Scooby Doo mystery formula.

    However! Ultimately, I think the videotapes weren't filmed by anyone. They mind's eye directorial metastory tools. Which is why the characters never see the cameras. Which is why WE never see where the camers could even be placed. The father even says at one point, "I walked right by it, why didn't I see it?" That opening shot, the placement of the camera, it's almost on the curb, slightly raised above the car, and would be in clear view for anyone to see. At first, I thought it's in the bushes. But later on, we get a clear shot of the street and we see that there really isn't anything that camera could be on or in. Hence, it's not there.

    That's my final take. But I thought I'd mention the old woman possibility since it'd never been raised.

     
  • At 5:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Read all the comments trying to figure out what I just watched. The only explaination that works for me is somewhat straightforward. Majid sent the tapes. George did something even more traumatizing to Majid than just having him sent away. (Having him sent away is terrible on it own.) This repressed trauma drives Majid into a form of insanity. When he tells George he didn't send the tapes and knows nothing about them he is calm and very believable. I'm thinking he has some sort of split personality (which sounds stupid, but it explains a lot to me). When he is terrorizing George he regresses back to the traumatized child, hence the pictures seeminly drawn by a child. Also, one thing that bothers me with all the other explainations is why would Majid kill himself, especially in such a dramatic way. Majid lived through the orphanage, went on and had a life and a son. There must have been something really, really messed up in Majid's head.

    I don't buy the kids being involved with the tapes. It seems to me the person who sent the tapes had to be present at the events of the past at the old house. It seems unlikely Majid would tell his son specific details about a chicken or spitting blood. Also, if Majid's son was involved he would have more guilt than he showed at George's office. He seems like he's trying to figure out what is going on and whether George is somehow responsible.

    The main problem with Majid sending the tapes is the tape left during the dinner party. How could it get into the doorway? Another problem is George's son finding out about his mother's affair. Someone must have been watching her. Who? Why?

    If my theory is right, what am I left with? George has done something terrible in the past. He was very young. He is in denial and his denial makes things worse. When George goes to Majid's house he hands him the picture of the bleeding boy. He's ramming the events of the past down Majid's throat. Majid commits suicide. I don't think George ever comes to terms with his past and his responsibility for his actions. He's not a completely evil character. His evil action happened when he was an innocent boy. He's so guilty now he has no idea how to deal with it. He is being terrorized. A natural reaction is to strike back.

    The two boys meeting at the end. That seems ambiguous. It could be sinister. Majid's son looking for revenge for his father's death. Or it could be a sign of hope. The two boys reconciling where their fathers could not.

    My theory also fits the political theories people have discussed above. G is France. He's committed a terrible act -- the massacre. He's not dealing with it well -- our current political situation. Majid is the Algerians. He has been wronged in the past. He now acts as both victim and aggressor and is driven to destroy himself because of the actions of George/ France. Only time will tell whether the sons reconcile or destroy each other.

    Good movie.

     
  • At 7:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It is now the 1st of March and after so long reading different blogs and comments sites about this film, I just want to put my theory across!

    I think there was another young boy, an older brother to Georges. it is him in the flashbacks, with Majid. This would explain why he "had to share" a bedroom, and when he said "you were bigger and stronger than me then". The 2 boys in the flashback are of similar age and size. I think that Majid killed the brother with the axe, which is why he was taken away.

    I do agree with the poster who said Georges mother is involved. I think the dead brother is in contact with her (pls stay with me on this one!!) I beleive the mother has stayed in contact with Majid through the dead son, and that it is the dead brother who is making the tapes (linking back to the previous posts re act of God, conscious etc). It would also explain how the tape managed to get wedged in the door of the flat when Georges didn't even see it on his way out.

    I also cannot find other explanation for Georges not going looking for the camera, surely it would be the first thing anyone would do? But if his dead brother is also talking to him, he would not go looking for an answer as he would know it is his brother, via his conscience, that is bringing the past into the present, as a way of making Georges face up to the realities of what he has done in the past.

    I also believe this links in with the future, that Pierrot can still be friends with Yves, who, yes I totally agree is Majids son, (as France and Algeria now move on), and that the final scene is the dead brother watching over the 2 youngsters of the next generation.

    However, one question is still REALLY bugging me - WHY did Yves/Majids son, say to Georges that HE KNEW how it felt to have a mans death on his conscience? I didn't take this as him talking about Georges, but that he himself knew how it felt.

    Just thought I would get all that off my chest!!! Thanks!! x

     
  • At 8:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just watched this movie and a lot of the themes discusssed her reminded me of the book Atonement by Ian McEwan. There may also be a reference in the movie that Georges & Anne's son is called Pierrot and so is one of the twins in the novel. The novel deals with lies told in childhood and later repercussions using metafiction and psychological realism.

    Re the ending completely missed the meeting of Pierrot & Majid's son and had assumed that Majid's son was behind the tapes and was trying to torture Georges for past sins. Re-evaluating the last scene does not really change my take on this with of course a major theme being France's colonial past and the future of France's social development. I suppose only the director knows exactly what he was trying to infer/say in the movie and probably mostly to encourage speculation and debate.

    Thought it was enjoyable but not really that satisfying as I would prefer a complete narrative rather than esoteric meaning unless the actual story is esoteric, which this wasn't.

    Strangelyb

     
  • At 8:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm not yet finished thinking about this movie and I watched it about 10 hours ago. First, let me say that the suicide scene was quite unexpected and extremely intense. Wow. Secondly, I truly respect everyone's take on the film but if we are to believe that the tapes were not a manifestation of Georges' guilty conscience and were in fact based in some sort of reality, then they could have only been made by Majid's son. Think about it and you'll realize its true.
    -Carlos

     
  • At 11:56 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    March 15, 2007

    Carlos, I agree with you. Vanessa, I'm sorry to hear about your father but am glad he made it. And Barry "The Walrus" Bernsberg, thanks.

    Also, I just wanted to let readers know that this thread, even though it's over a year old, is still getting many, many daily readers, probably because it's linked on Wikipedia.

    So keep sharing your theories/reactions.

    Also, is there a director's commentary? Does it offer any insights into the many questions we've raised?

     
  • At 6:30 AM, Blogger Drew said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

     
  • At 6:43 AM, Blogger Drew said…

    I just bought and watched the DVD yesterday, and have scrolled through some of your theories (but not all since i don't have time). In the commentary for the film Haneke says that he orignally wrote dialogue for Majid's son and Pierrot but later decided to take it out. Depending on how you look at it, you can either view their meeting at the end as extremely important to the narrative mystery, or not important at all since in the end he decided to not give them dialouge. Sorry if you all are way past this already in the everlasting saga of unravelling this movie.

     
  • At 1:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Didn't Georges' son said something like: "What's up with this letter you brought me?" and then he says that it was given to some lady bu the father... I know it would be too obvious but that's what I remember.

     
  • At 10:49 AM, Anonymous Conal Mullan, Derry, Ireland said…

    any chance of a sequel? maybe that could clear up some of the outstanding issues.. (joke)


    excellent read by the way folks.. really was theraputic having just seen the movie for the first time last night...

     
  • At 6:50 AM, Anonymous MapMan said…

    Facscinating movie and discussion. Nystrom and Keeble are right. I think the confirmation that Haneke is the hidden cameraman, the one who "leaves the tapes" comes early in the film. It's the second long take of the front of the house, at night. As a car's lights swing into the street, for a brief moment a large shadow of a man is cast onto the front of the house. Someone pointed this out and that the man was holding a camera. Well, it was a little hard to make out -- looked like a fat arrow-shaped thing sticking out of the man's belly. But here's the thing -- the man is fat, and exactly like the profile of Hitchcock we've seen so often. You know how Hitchcock always made an appearance in his films -- well this is Haneke saying "I'm the director, and I'm filming this scene here." Also reminiscent of the wildly exaggerated balloon man in the "Third Man," another director clue. Haven't had this much fun with a movie since Mullholland Drive!

     
  • At 6:54 AM, Anonymous MapMan said…

    Oh, and has anyone figured out what the lettering on the foreground object in the last scene (a fountain?) says? Very hard to make out -- almost looks backwards, or like a non-roman script.

     
  • At 3:27 PM, Anonymous Rachel said…

    (Don't know if this is still being looked at but...)

    Feb 18th 2008

    If Pierrot is responsible for the harassment, his motivation could be related to an Oedipal Complex-- hatred of the father, in love with his mother. He would be driven by hatred to torment and [attempt to] destroy his father, and perhaps his anger and resentment of his mother's alleged affair is attributed to the pain of his unrequited love for her ;)
    That whole theory is extremely far-fetched, however.

    On another note, did anybody find the scene between Georges and his boss veerrryyy suspicious? I got the distinct impression that his boss was lying about destroying the tape, and I spent a large part of the rest of the movie waiting for the boss' copy of the tape to come up again.

     
  • At 7:46 PM, Blogger sherif said…

    It seems that we were left with no answer on purpose. I think the film wanted to say, currently everything is meessed up with both George and Majid, which symbolizes the relationship between the French and the North Africans in France. But it does not matter now "who's dunnit", we just need to throw this behind us and look to the future, which is symbolized by the last scene showing Pierrot talking to Majid's son. Hoping the next generation can sort this out by conversation.
    Sherif

     
  • At 11:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I didnt get to read all the comments so Im not sure if someone mentioned it...
    But some fundamental problems with assuming its the son's.
    1. why would majid's son want to do anything that might lead to his fathers torture?
    2. how do we know that majid's meeting with the son at the ending doesnt actually mean he is going to get revenge on the Georges son? Maybe he felt fed up that Georges showed no remorse in the washroom and wanted him to see what its like to lose a loved one...
    3. theres no indication in the movie that Georges son wants to torment the dad for any reason or that the son knew about what happened.
    4. majids son looks much older, around 18... while georges son looks like he's 11, so it seems unlikely that they would be friends to conspire.

     
  • At 10:16 PM, Blogger Brother Temple, aka "Leroy Jenkins" said…

    This is probably a re-iteration of what someone else has said but I am WAY too lazy too read through all the comments. I'm sorry but apathy is a severe disability for me.

    Has anyone explored the option that the entire thing was staged as part of "Frederique"'s new film? He was the one the cast was talking about at the first dinner party. The wife's boss responds to the question of "what is the script about?" by responding "What script?" Possibly a clue that he was aware of a non-scripted film produced by someone everyone knew but had lost contact with.

    Just a thought, and I just watched the move or the first time and I'm too drunk to elaborate.

     
  • At 9:10 AM, Anonymous Johnny Canuck said…

    OK - its August 30th 2008. I saw this movie on TV last night (HD - great!) and had to read the comments to get a better sense of how others saw this film.

    Here is my take:

    1. The video tapes and drawings do not physically exist. Logically they can't as has been pointed out - they would be too obvious not to have been in plain sight.

    Also - as has been pointed out, they are inconsistant with any practical reality of making a real tape - the car scenes, the taping of M's suicide, walking right past the camera on many occasions etc.

    Also, note that the police never take any notice of the "hard" evidence that we see in the film. Why? Because there isn't any.

    Ergo - no-one made these "tapes" or "drawings" - they are only provided to illustrate to us, the viewers, the explicit stories that Georges tells himself and all those around him.

    They are stories of persecution and terrorism that "someone" is torturing him with. But it is pretty clear that the someone is his own conscience (or possibly sub-conscious) doing all the dirty work.

    It is critical to understanding this film that George is a TV editor - a skilled professional at re-writing history. That is the political point the director is making in my opinion.

    In Canada as in other countries all over the world, our politicians constantly re-write history, particularly when it comes to the past abuses - often monstrous - of our native peoples or immigrant population.

    So - here is my interpretation of what transpired:

    When young (as shown in the brief flashback with the children) it was Georges - not Majid who was older. Georges terrorized the younger adopted child (who was only six remember with beautiful, innocent dark eyes - very Algerian, not like Georges eyes at all) as well as lied about him.

    The bloody killing of the cock - a definite reference to the threat to France by bloodthirsty immigrants - and the following direct menacing threat to the young 6 year old "French" boy with a bloody cleaver are - I believe - Georges recreations/re-editing of his own past actions, not Majid's.

    I believe Georges has transposed his own monstrous actions onto Majid in order to cope with his own guilt at what his own actions caused, namely Majid being falsely accused, physically removed from his home and thrown out of his adoptive family.

    Again - analagous to how our politicians and some of us individually, rewrite history to justify our own collective guilt for past wrongs - blame the victim.

    The blood images, I believe are references to the lies George used to try and frighten his parents into getting rid of Majid by implying he had TB - playing to the fears of "diseased immigrants" that were prevelant at that time.

    The "memory" footage we see is like the other tapes and indicates that Georges campaign was successful in having Majid thrown out of his adopted home (homeland?).

    As the film unfolds, we see Georges "track down" the terrorist - Majid - who he still blames for these "tapes" that are torturing him and upsetting his family even after all these years. But Majid, who is tired and broken, living in poverty doesn't know anything about "tapes". But he is glad he has come.

    Why? Because Majid thinks that Georges has come after all these many years to finally acknowledge the horrible things he has done to him in the past and accept him as the adopted brother he always wished to be (again strong immigrant overtones here).

    But instead Georges blames and accuses him all over again - reopening the old wounds for the final time and triggering Majids final suicidal act of despair.

    The final scene with the next generation, I choose to see as a hugely positive message rather than sinister foreshadowing. To me, it suggests that the sons of the fathers are not part of this horrible past and can meet and socialize as friends unburdened by the guilt and fears of the past generations.

    Anyway that's my take.

    Very enjoyable and thought-provoking film.

     
  • At 2:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for making this page- lots of brilliant theories. I just want to throw a couple of things into the mix:

    I wanted to point out that- in the VIDEOS- except for the two driving videos- all the shots are completely static. ie no one is holding or moving the camera around. I think it is only one person doing the videos. Hidden and set up- so that the person filming is free to move about- and //significantly// APPEAR in the videos. Georges ("farmer" ) appears in several of the vids- so he was at least close by. But even in the car- the camera doesn't move on the dashboard and the ONLY time someone picks up the physical camera is to swivel it toward the childhood home. From the DRIVER's seat. FROM THE ROAD. Maybe because the driver might be recognised?

    The fact that most of the vids have (another hour- or another two hours) extra boring stuff- meaning no one was there (except the driving ones) to shut them off after whatever meaningful event was captured on them.

    I would happily believe that Georges was responsible for the vids, except for the one in Majid's apartment. Or did G sneak in BEFORE that first cup of coffee? Unlikely. If fils de majid is Yves- or even Francois? Then Peirrot could have planted the camera when he was there to be tutored on geometry. But- that gets me thinking about the length of time that the video would have to be running. Hmmmm. But, clearly SOMEONE had a video camera as they approached Majid's door. I guess it could have been P. HE certainly had a computer in his room for editing. Which i found odd when they didn't check it for clues when P had disappeared.

    I also found it interesting that when Anne - ("grace")- said to watch the rest of the Majid confrontation tape-"if you want to see how he feels"- Georges has absolutely NO INTEREST.

    And isn't it significant that these are VIDEOS! Not dvds. Who uses VIDEOS? Television stations- we never know the FORMAT of the videos- presumably beta. There is at least one DUPLICATE made of one of the videos. Who can make DUPLICATES of tapes- especially in a timely manner? Television stations!

    Did Georges' boss get to view a video by design or by accident? For instance- something left in the machine in the editing booth. Maybe the boss was just feeling him out to see what he would say.

    Oh- Majid's comment - you were bigger than me- the kid who chops off the rooster's head in the flashback or dream is definitely bigger than the kid who is up against the wall. Incidentally, there were other tools on the wall. Maybe as Georges REMEMBERS it- he felt threatened by bloody "Majid". But, what PROBABLY happened in the seconds that followed- was that the bigger kid just hung up the axe again. Sure- shame on him for not wiping off the blade...

    I'll leave it for more analysis from the experts.....

    Langford (9-4-08)

     
  • At 6:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I was personally stumped by the film and not happy with it offering almost nothing on the end for the viewer to make any conclusion, while the movie itself was obviously built in whodunit manner. Not that it’s not an excellent and very skillfully made film. I guess I’m ambivalent about it.

    These explanations were interesting to read, but to be honest they only made me more confused, as so many new theories I didn’t think of were presented.

    I don’t agree that Majid was an innocent character from Georges’ past. Not many of you mentioned the problem of his suicide. If he was only the victim in the past and completely innocent in present, why the suicide?

     
  • At 8:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think it is Majid's son with the tapes.

    A few extra reasons why that havn't been mentioned.

    1) When G threatens Majid's son in the bathroom at work, Majid says something like "Oh, you like making threats don't you?". This means (unless his father told him of the encounter) that he must have viewed the footage from the apartment, and thus must have set up the secret camera there.

    2) Majid is asking what it feels like to have a man's life on his conscience, because perhaps he is intending to take Pierrot's life as payback... and thus hte last scene is somewhat sinister.

    3) In the police car, Majid's son is made to look quite sinister and brooding. A sign of guilt perhaps?

    Just some thoughts.

     
  • At 12:24 AM, Anonymous steven said…

    The tapes exist metaphysically because they are taken by the community (by the publisher at his work, by his wife (who isn't included in his own subjectivity), the wife recieves the tape and watches it before georges does (how could this be true if it were merely a mind-incrimination), etc.

    There isn't any evidence for this, but do they ever say majid's son name? It's oddly suspicious that "cache" does not have the names of the characters in the movie, if somebody could read a script maybe we could figure out the name of majids son, and it could be him. Francois could be the person that he has been suspiciously seeing (and pierrot is already in the habbit of using Yves as an excuse). There is also no reason to think that the mother in the film, the pale one who drops pierrot off, isn't majid's sons wife.

    When Majid's son approachs pierrot doesn't even shrug his shoulders, it is an immediate transition to familiarity, and when majid's son approachs he looks for him, finds him pretty quickly (this doesn't seem to be a voyeuristic familiarity), also another clue (of their colloboration) is that when they walk away they give no formal greeting, they simply have an almost pre-rehearsed walk.

    We can't see clearly the face of pierrot during this discussion, and I fail to see how the ending could be a symbol for the algerian-franconian relations, it seems more like a casual recap.

    The threat majid's son gives at the end seems to indicate he knows a lot more than "i was wrongly accused", the assurance in which he says "my father wasn't involved" seems to indicate he has a real grasp on who was involved, the third thing is in the end he says "i have nothing to hide (cache)" and majid (francois) says "non?" as if "really, don't? after all that I know about you?"

    In the start the wife says

    "- François called to...
    - There!



    Give it here.
    "

    So that shows that they do have a familiar understanding with 'francois" so there is a hole in my theory.

    The voice of the swim director at the start doesn't match majid's son, at all.

    Pierrot suggests moms affair when he says "why where was she" in the car with his dad when he first picks him up.

    that's all I have for now. are all of hanekes film without credits?

     
  • At 2:09 PM, Anonymous Gerard said…

    everybody keeps talking about the tapes and pierrot and majid's son.

    but not about the drawings and cards.
    they show a chickin beheaded, how could pierrot know this, his father never shared his past.
    Would Majid have shared it with his son, maybe.

    Howcome Majid never contacted the family later on?

    Many questions rise, little are answered.

    Certain is, it was not Pierrot alone.

    And who made the tapes must have known about the "incident" in Georges and Majids youth.

     
  • At 5:41 AM, Anonymous Daniel Cassiel said…

    This probably adds no help, but Pierrot after his missing night, shouts at his mother when asked what's wrong, "Why not ask Pierre? He knows everything!" She thinks it is because he suspects her of an affair with her boss, but could it be more than that? Would cast a light on Brother Temple's suggestion about the new film being discussed at the dinner party.

    Also, unless we go down the route of thinking the tapes are pure metaphor and/or symptom of Georges' psyche, then Pierrot is the only plausible planter of the late-night tape. And if the tapes don't exist in reality, the wife must be only Georges' mental construct of her too, as she appears to seem terrified and sure they are real ( though interestingly, J Binoche's face is barely seen in the first ten to twenty minutes,normally just her back or the like, whereaa most directors would catch her lovingly in close-up)

    Also the VIDEO tape from the hidden camera we see of the first confrontation at Majid's apartment only shows a back view of Georges, then Majid breaking down - and in my view at least it does not look or move that much like Daniel Auteuil at all. Could it be a mocked-up recreation of the event?

    On a completely anal note, when Georges is heading towards Majid's apartment, the tracking shot down the corridor is very David Lynch, and then the apartment number is shown clearly to be 47, the same number as the mysterious apartment in Inland Empire. Is this some longstanding filmic in-joke?

    Daniel Cassiel

     
  • At 12:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It is 2009 and the controversy still goes on . . . What no one has touched on is how completely fake the suicide scene seems. Georges comes in the door. Majid says "I wanted you to be present for this," and then takes out a straight razor and slits his throat. The blood spurts up all over the wall, in a very artistic pattern reminiscent of the earlier childish drawings. This leads me to believe that this suicide is just a figment of Georges' imagination. It didn't happen. Maybe Majik does not even exist, at least in this time frame. Maybe GEORGES killed Majid with the cleaver back in the past.

    What if we look at the movie backwards. The first scene is Pierrot and "Majid's" son. Maybe Majid's son is really Yves, who Pierrot does geometry homework with. When George sees them together, it sets off a psychological break down that leads him to make tapes incriminating this young man.

    I know there are some details that need to be worked out here, but what do you think?

     
  • At 11:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I just saw this movie an hour ago and am very intrigued (and confused)!

    However...

    The last 2 scenes where we see Majib taken away to an orphanage and then Pierrot and Majib's son near his school, it obviously looks like someone is sitting there with a camera, just taping it. The same goes for several previous scenes, but those two especially stood out to me.

    My guess is that Georges is somehow behind it, even if indirectly.

    I mean, think about it, the man does a TV show for a living, and a successful one at that. I think there might be a connection? Maybe his love of movie-making and working with cameras started when he was a kid?

    Just my 2 cents.

    -Ari

     
  • At 7:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The swim coach was not Majid's son. Can we get that out of the way now? Thanks. Now what about Georges mother in the room and seeing nothing of the outside world? She also says something about unpleasant memories and doesn't want to remember them A generation doesn't want to face up to its past and the sons and indeed daughters have to carry that guilt. Yes, the tapes are only used as a device, I think. And until the director tells us different I'll go with the ending is some kind of hope for the future. Probably a thousand other things to say about this cracking film.

     
  • At 12:17 AM, Blogger Rob said…

    Did anyone else thing that the reason Pirrot was so mad at his mom and not at his dad was because he saw a tape of her having an affair with that 'friend' of hers?

    I really thought that was where they were going with that scene in the bedroom between the mother and son.


    And as for the whole movie, I think it is very clearly about the French-Algerian conflict. I believe the scene at the end is of the two sons righting the wrongs of the past.

     
  • At 9:44 AM, Blogger tommy said…

    it was majids' son....

     
  • At 3:48 PM, Blogger tommy said…

    only 2 people could have done it...majid and his son...majid was genuinely surprised when george went to see him,anne thought he didn't send the tapes,near the end,goerge said majid was incapable of it...whereas majids' son was more aggressive,he had motive because he said george was responsible for majid getting a poor education,he also knew george was good at making threats,suggesting he saw/made the video in majids' apartment,and he must have been lying when he said he knew nothing about pierrot because of the postcard sent to his school...

    pierrot might have known because he disappeared directly after anne was with her manfriend...he might have seen a tape of this,or he might not...

    at the end,majids' son could have been meeting pierrot for the first time,maybe telling him about their fathers,or the postcard he received...leading to pierrot eventually finding out what happened...

    either way,it's a devious way of generating interest by not clearly revealing what happened...having said that,i liked it...slow without ever being slow...very natural...very credible...fine acting...

     
  • At 5:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The tapes are just a deux et machina mode of starting the action. This movie reminded me of Kafka. The world of the movie is normal, but the main characters are not acting normally, their reactions do not balance the cause.
    The movie should be treasured as it is without a logical, linear explanation.

     
  • At 11:58 AM, Blogger RC said…

    Wow - this is a lively discussion - thank you so much for piecing all this together and hosting such a marvelous film discussion on this film.

     
  • At 3:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    If the final scene shown is placed at the beginning of the film, then the two boys did it all. My 2 cents.

     
  • At 2:57 PM, Anonymous Postscripter said…

    Author, director...people involved in the movie were never asked (in an interview for example) the question: Who recorded the tapes?!!

     
  • At 11:24 PM, Blogger Peter said…

    I thinks that Majid's is obviously crazy to kill himself and his words "I didn't do those tapes" cannot be trusted.
    So he drew pictures of the slit throat and killed himself according to his plan.
    Great actors but movie still disappointingly empty.
    Six years old kid can't be responsible for the bad happened because of his tricks - his parents are. They should have straighten situation out: "he is you brother now!". They are to blame.
    BTW, why old mother is never a suspect in those videos and pix?

     
  • At 12:59 AM, Anonymous Daniel said…

    14th december 2009... still rolling
    I just watched this movie on DVD, rented in Brazil. I was only slightly aware of the franco-algerian conflicts, by having read Camu's The Stranger when I was younger. I could identify the theme on some portions of the movie, but never really thought they were so lively portraied before reading these comments (all of them, by the way). In the end of the movie I had a big question mark above my head, but went straight to the internet to search for discussion, and was very pleased to find this site (altough I really wanted to find an interview with the director explaining it...).
    Oh my... there are so many theories, and I can find truth in most of them... and I also find it strange the mother showed up only twice as a suspect, she was one of the first I thought of. Anyways, I'll check back here sometime soon, I'm too dizzy and tired to write new theories now, and probably they would all have been covered yet...
    But I hope you people have a nice and peacefull new year, and that we have more luck in the future solving the differences between our people (as I want to believe, the ending scene of the film is about).

     
  • At 1:19 AM, Anonymous Daniel said…

    Actually, I just looked up some interviews with Haneke on Google and they were very enlightening. Not about what really happened on the movie, but what the movie was all about. And it might not interest many people here, but it related to me a lot to some interpretations of song lyrics by The Sisters of Mercy and Leonard Cohen. Various layres of significance, all coherent to some point with each other, and still with their own meaning by themselves.

     
  • At 8:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    March 12 2010. I think I have this thing figured out.

    I think that George and Frederic are the same person and that george is suffering from Multi personality disorder just recently caused, by regaining some of his early childhood memories. George as Frederic is shooting his life as the screen play.

    Early Childhood memories conclusions:

    1)Is that Majida was adopted only to terrize George which led to surpressed memories causing multi personality.

    2)Their was a 3rd brother who Majida killed (frederic) and George developed a personality to make up for the loss later in life.

    3)Both Majida and Georges are blood brothers of which for some reason One had to be sacraficed. The stronger Majida. French gov taking action against the children of the dead parents. Out of this guilt another personality was created.

    THE EVIDENCE FOR THE MULT PERSONALITY DISORDER.

    1)Camera Location should be noticable and looked for but aren't. George should have easly seen a camera not only on the outside scene, but in Majida apartment. Especially, the suicide scene. He doesn't even look for the camera. He doesn't look for the camera because he subconsciouly knows they are their.

    2)I think the most important scene! The door scene - notice how the door swings inward when he opens it - then walks outside, but when he comes in the door is jammed. Thats impossible unless someone put it there from the inside. Meaning someone at the dinner party and if one person did they all had to know about it. I think everybody is trying to help him deal with his past child hood issues. Also, note that one scene is almost compeletly dedicated to just showing how the gate has to be unlocked.

    3)Mom scene with George. Mom is worried about George and brings up age with childhood memories appearing meaning the personality disorder probably just happened recently.

    4)Ann Pierre Periot problems. I think Ann and Pierre are having an affair or are being drawn closer together through help george through his problems and Periot doesn't like it. I image Periot and alot of people are helping Frederico with the cameras.

    More evidence of mult personality disorder.

    1)Family house location only georges of Majida and possibly Majida son knew.

    2)Symbolizism of the drawings only two people could know that. Majida and Georges. Since we know that Majida couldn't have put that door jam Fredico/George probably had one of the party guest do it as part of the screen play since georges is frenico. Also, not the bizarre tension by the black women and pierre when the screen play is mentioned and the door bell rings. My guess is periot rang the door bell and either ann or pierre placed the package.

    3)Majida suicide wasn't because of how his life turned out, but because of Guilt for either killing a brother of georges or tormenting georges. The Majida son office scene with george was the son angry that george never forgave his father and that drove him to suicide.

    Thats my sense of it. Multi personalities one that has moved on Frederic and Georges. The real one is Frederic - the made up personality is Georges.

     
  • At 1:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I know I'm a few years late, but I only heard about this movie after I watched White Ribbon.

    What if Majid had committed suicide (not in Georges' presence but before) and his son wanted to make sure that Georges knew it was his fault and devised the video/picture scheme?

    The Egyptian

     
  • At 8:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Egyptian: I can't believe this! I just watched, "White Ribbon" today and was reminded of "Cache", thus the research and finding this thread haha. Small world.


    "Majid Jr seems to have established a friendly contact with Pierrot and is now plotting to turn on him and hurt him. "............. Yeah, those two were SO friendly towards each other I thought they had an affair going. Tie that into the editing of the homosexual interview.

     
  • At 3:18 AM, Anonymous Marcus said…

    Hi everyone,

    I have a little theory for what happened, my English is not very good so i apologize in advance for any of my errors;

    I think that Pierrot was behind the videotapes because he was the "perfect" character to play him. Think about it, he had all the time in the world to plant the video tapes (during the day, maybe he skipped a day at school, at night)so he could have easily been the criminal here. Also, his parents never suspected it.

    I have a bit of a far fetched theory for the man behind the drawings. I think it was the son of the older man, Majid I think his name was. when he says "I did not know about the tapes" this does not include the drawings.

    The problem with my theory is the 2nd to last scene in the movie. The scene where a few persons get into the car and drive away. It was impossible for Pierrot to do this because he was not even born at the time. This HAD to have been the work of Majid. Who else could it have been? Anne was not married yet, Majids son was not born yet. Unless Georges did it but there was no signals in the movie to point that Georges was creating his own mastermind plot. Perhaps to have a good story to tell on the news?

    I am very happy to hear what you have to say about my theory. I apoloize again for my not so good english (I am polish)(:

    Take care everyone.

     
  • At 6:15 AM, Anonymous generic klonopin said…

    Anyway...if we're looking for a clear culprit, I'd say her. Her motives are too clear and it fits the perfect sort of Scooby Doo mystery formula.

    phentermine buy

     
  • At 8:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    as soon as majhid confronted the auteuil at his work place......I knew it was majhid behind the phone calls...i recognized his voice. pierrot is angry at his mom for the affair and mad at his father for his seedy past...pierrot and majhid are the culprits. thanks for this blog, I was so pissed at how most french movies always leave me puzzled....im so accustomed to simple american movies, i suppose...so yeah majhid and pierrot dunit.

     
  • At 4:18 PM, Anonymous dadaistful said…

    Has to be mahjid or his son . keeping in mind the drawings that were sent - besides georges they could be the only two who would know abt the incidents - cutting off roosters head , coughing up blood..also mahjid did not look 'surprised enough' when georges first confronted him in his flat with the drawings

     
  • At 4:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    it was mahjid's wife

     
  • At 8:03 AM, Blogger Sam Clunie said…

    Hasn't anyone mentioned the cyclist incident? When Georges blindly steps out onto the road and begins to agressively berate and belittle a black man.

    I think our protagonist is prejudice against non-white frenchmen. Hence his attitude toward Majid and his son, he never doubts there guilt. I personally do not think Pierrot is involved in the way people are making out, the video tapes, I believe are put by Haneke himself. The sheer dishonesty between Georges and his family, makes it very hard for the viewer to invest any moral/truthfull compass in any of the characters.

     
  • At 7:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It is May 1, 2011 and I have just watched this movie for the first time. Here is my take on the mystery.

    Majid had told his son the story, and Majid's son looked up Pierrot and told him about it. They then began to work together to try and bring their two fathers together and create a reconciling event. The tapes were being produced by Pierrot using equipment that was readily available from Georges. Pierrot was doing the taping (Majid's son was doing the driving in the tapings from the car since Pierrot was obviously too young to drive).

    Obviously, the six year old Georges could not have been held accountable for setting up Majid; after all, what six year old really understands the consequences of his actions. However, a grown Georges could have easily gone to see Majid and said, "I'm sorry for what happened when we were little kids; I did not know better". Majid would have certainly said, "Of course, you could not have known better; I was angry for awhile but have come to understand that you were only six; please do not feel bad for me". This was the fantasy that Pierrot and Majid's son were both harboring.

    Pierrot's hopes were dashed when he viewed Georges callousness and Majid's subsequent emotional devastation in the tape of the first meeting of Georges and Majid. He then plants the tape for his mother to see. Then Peirrot disappears and later falsely claims he was upset because of his mother's relationship with her boss. He was in fact using that as a cover story because he did not want to admit that he knew about his father's callous attitude towards Majid.

    By the way, the last frame does not give an indication of whether it is another one of Pierrot's tapings. It can be interpreted either way, i.e. Pierrot taping himself and Majid's son for further torturing of Georges, or just the last frame of the movie itself. Either way works.

     
  • At 2:36 AM, Anonymous Laura said…

    Remember the dinner conversation about animal reincarnation? The chicken did it! I'm only half serious, but actually it kind of makes sense -- the chicken is the only real victim here. And it was mean, as Georges describes.

     
  • At 2:42 AM, Anonymous Laura said…

    Also just a note about the brilliant set design, although it's fairly obvious -- I like the way the bookshelves on the talk show set mirrored the bookshelves at home, driving home the point (which might otherwise have been lost) about how talk show sets resemble homes, but the conversation around the table, so to speak, is livelier at the talk show than it is at the family's dinner table in the previous scene.

     
  • At 1:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Majid's son made the tapes and Pierrot implanted the tapes to his parents.

     
  • At 6:51 PM, Anonymous Chucique said…

    I'm not even sure how my surfing drift led me back to this film that I saw many years ago, but I think it is a testament to how affecting and unsettling it was that I'm here.

    I would ask anyone who is trying to figure out who sent the tapes to consider why that answer is so important. What point would finding out that Majid's son or Pierrot did it, or they did it together, or it was someone else altogether? I really don't think that would illuminate much of anything, and I certainly don't think it would've made the film more satisfying to me.

    My initial reaction, and the one I still cling to when considering this film, is that the point more has to do with Georges' and Anne's reactions to the tapes, rather than why the tapes are being made themselves. They immediately assume some malevolent intent, despite the fact that they were mere recordings, with no attempt to editorialize what they were displaying. They were just showing them that they were being "watched". By whom? Does it matter?

    So think more about how you would react to the realization that every single moment of your life is being recorded by some seemingly omniscient being, whose only reaction is to inform you that you're being watched. I think people's reactions to that are much more universal, and much more damning. Most people would probably react very similarly to Georges and Anne, and yet, why is that the reaction? What are you trying to hide? What don't you want people to see? True, there's a great message to be made about the 1961 police massacre, but it's a message that's a lot more universal.

    And that's why I think it's important that the videos never seemed to editorialize what they were showing. They just recorded it. And Georges' individual feelings of guilt, fear and degradation fill in what they mean. It's like a Rorschach test. "Oh, it obviously means this!" Why does it mean that? There's nothing objective in the videos that would allow you to draw that conclusion. It's not judging you. It's showing you for what you are.

    The only thing that makes me waver about this are the drawings, which I didn't even remember until I read this thread. (I haven't seen the film in years) Still, if there's a universal point being made, it's how we react, and act, when we realize we're being watched. How would you have behaved differently today if you knew someone was watching you every second? Would it matter if it was someone who didn't even know you?

     
  • At 4:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Okay... i tried to read all the comments to see if anyone explained it the way i saw it but i could only get through about a 3rd of them.... theres a lot of comments...
    Anyways, I saw this film simple as Haneke meats Mystery. i think he tries to set up a convetional naritive while at the same time he tries to execute that narative in his own Haneke-esq style. I believe that as far as the "plot" goes: The 2 sons worked together towards terrorizing Georges, but i only believe it was the drawings they were involved in (that they actually committed). I think they knew each other before hand (not explained), but i don't believe majid's son was the coach.
    now as far as everything else goes (the tapes), I think it's all Haneke from that point on. Haneke doesn't film "movies" he films "realities." He films movies the way our brains often observe dreams. we are the characters but are not aware of our control to actually utilized this awarness in anyway.... we are the characters but have nothing more to do than to exist as the characters and go along for the ride (whatever that may be). that being said, Haneke DOES exist himself in this reality. He is the constructor of this "dreamscape" and can assert himself into it however he pleases (those who have seen his other works have seen this sort of thing before, though usually this is represented as a character or characters with supreme control and not left to be assumed as his own, unseen, supreme control). He is responsible for the tapes. they are real in this reality though he is not. he is not real to this reality but the tapes are, or at least are as real to this reality as the character themselves are.
    for a filmmaker such as Haneke, this manifests itself in a number of ways, but i think the main goal is to allow himself to make a movie that can be watched by anyone and appreciated (though not necessarily liked) by a number of different types of viewers, on a number of different levels, while still allowing people that are familier with his work to appreciate it on (or close to) the level in which he envisioned it.
    It isn't my favourite of his movies but i do think it is his most ambitious and possibly his most complex (though that is hard to say over some of his other works).

    Burner Hurst Helmsley

    bigburns_58(at)hotmail.com, would love to hear replies

     
  • At 10:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I believe that it is all a dream. Georges subconscious is wreaking havoc on him. This would explain why there are holes and no real conclusion. 7/25/2011

     
  • At 11:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    7/28/11
    So late to the party but I just saw this film and wanted to leave my two cents in case my ideas resonated with anyone!

    While I do believe much of this film has deeper political subtext/metaphors (Majid committing suicide and Georges not doing anything about it might stand for the French looking the other way when it came to the plight of the Algerians, etc), I also think it has enough on the surface to stand as a general whodunit piece.

    The narrative’s answers lie in the title “Hidden”. Everyone has something to hide.

    Things are hidden to spare people their feelings, yet in the end they do more to hurt than to save.

    Georges who quite obviously is twisting the truth and hiding a much more traumatizing past, most for which he is to blame.

    His wife for hiding her infidelities.

    Pierrot (which someone points out means jester or puppet in French) for finding out his mother’s cheating sensibilities (through Majid’s son who has befriended him), and being so angry /disgusted conspires with Majid on their path of revenge.

    I think the question of the boss not being able to produce the tape when Georges asks for it is because perhaps he is hiding the fact that he gave it to someone else to watch (a trusted co-worker? A family member? The police?).

    I think Majid hid his past from his son or maybe just told him some fragmented pieces, but either way the son was able to piece together his own version of events, perhaps never confirmed by his father in an attempt to protect him (thus being a “good father”, yet Majid senses the boy knows and has his hunches when he sees the drawings) - that is why, the son, having seen his father live through the guilt of this, asks Georges how he feels having to carry that same burden. When Majid says he had “nothing to do with sending those tapes”- he is not lying because he had Pierrot do the sending…

    I think the past might involve Georges and Majid being quite “close”- a homosexual relaionship maybe? That could explain why Georges avoids his wife and she runs into the arms of another. Perhaps there was another brother (the cock, the frère) and George convinced Majid to kill him so they could be closer, and then Majid ended up being forced to take the blame for it.

    I think Georges mother hid for her entire life that she knows Georges is to blame for the atrocities, but had the innocent Majid taken away in order to protect her son- which is why she is so reticent to talk about it, even on her (almost) deathbed.

    I think Majid finds out about what his son is up to and calls Georges over to tell him. But at the last minute, he decides not to throw his son under the bus the way Georges did to him so many years ago. He takes this hidden fact with him to the grave.

    The parents hide all of the gorier details from their son. I think Majid’s son has used Pierrot as a pawn. While they are in cahoots, he is hiding from Pierrot all the finer points of the plot. All Pierrot knows is that the parents are receiving tapes and drawings in an effort to spook them (all the while being the one who is doing all the delivery). Majid’s not done using Pierrot though, as we can very well see towards the end…Majid’s son may very well be manipulating Pierrot in the same manner a young Georges manipulated a young Majid. Thus perpetuating the unfortunate cycle of secrets and tragedy…

    Ultimately, I think how you receive this film depends on what is hidden in you…what your leanings are and where your sympathies lie…brilliant film!

     
  • At 6:13 PM, Anonymous the wise one said…

    The entire film is symbolic. The tapes are only cinematic devices. The french (and others) have treated the arabs badly; the arabs have reacted badly (sometimes in a suicidal manner). The future lies in the hands of our children.

     
  • At 2:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just saw the film.
    My take is that the videos and drawings are metaphoric devices for George's guilt buried in his sub-conscience. The initial videos represent that he his hiding something he feels guilty for from his past. Subsequent videos offer clues that he can't deny and must confess, to the point where he confesses everything to his wife. The point is that you cannot run from your past actions they will always catch up to you. This ties in with the political statement regarding the Algerian massacre.

     
  • At 5:28 AM, Blogger marcblanc said…

    I think Georges 'did' it. Not in the sense that he stood outside his apartment and filmed himself leaving for and returning from work, but in the sense that the videos are prompts for him to confront his guilt. They are a filmic trick. Nobody else in the film has the knowledge of his past needed to make them.
    Don't forget, Michael Haneke is one of those middle class liberals who thinks that African and Arab people are, by definition, innocent and that white westerners (especially Americans) like him are always guilty. George's guilt represents France's guilt for its treatment of Algerians, and the white west’s larger guilt for colonialism, the Iraq war etc etc.
    The problem with all this is that George has nothing really to be guilty about except chairing intensely boring and pretentious TV shows, and being a poor father. Telling tall tales, as he did about Majid, is par for the course for six-year-olds. His parents overreacted by sending Majid away, but that isn't his problem.
    Haneke wants it both ways: he wants us to be sympathetic toward George and Anne, which means he can't make George truly bad, but he also wants to implicate George in Majid's death (and the black cyclist's anger etc).
    The final scene isn't meant to signify reconcilitation between white and Arab France, therefore, but is the beginning of another cycle of exploitation, which will end with Majid's son being stitched up by Pierrot. Because Pierrot is 'guilty' too.
    When you come down to it, Michael Haneke is a jerk.

     
  • At 8:37 PM, Blogger Nimrod said…

    So many comments and you all missed it. I guess you could not have guessed it :)

    The key to this film is the work of this man: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Baudrillard
    especially this one:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulacra_and_Simulation

     
  • At 6:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What a waste of time watching this movie was. Don't you all get it? You aren't supposed to get it. I wonder if the director even knows the meaning of it. I'd love to see an interview with him where he is questioned as to the meaning of it. I bet he'd be just as elusive. Just because it's French and confusing doesn't make it good movie-making.

     
  • At 8:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    10-2-11
    The movie was on IndiePlex this afternoon, and I immediately Googled after it ended, to find out what the heck happened.
    Your comments really helped.
    Just a couple thoughts I haven't seen posted:
    --the last scene is actually the first scene, establishing that Pierrot and Majid's son know one another. But I think they know each other not because they're school mates but because Majid's son is Yves's father.
    --I got a strong sense that georges made up lies about majid because majid was raping him -- "you were bigger than me. What else was I supposed to do?" He needed to get rid of Majid but couldn't tell his parents about being sexually assaulted. The blood in the flashback scenes made me think of this. It also explains why Georges "remembers" Majid threateningly approaching him in the barn, a scene that's prefaced by Majid being responsible for a bloodied cock.
    --Georges took the pills, called Anne and told her to tell Pierrot to "go easy on his dad" when he comes home. I think Georges was planning suicide, and telling Anne to ask their son to "go easy" on not being angry at his dad's decision. The real end of the film is Georges getting into bed to die.

    Would love more discussion on this fascinating and frustrating movie!

     
  • At 11:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The director has stated that the filming is done by a real character in the movie.

    What about Georges' boss? He certainly had means and possibly motive. He was involved, saying he had received a copy of a video which he "destroyed". The network seemed to want to get rid of Georges and the boss suggests someone wanting to "ruin his career"?

    There seem to be too many limitations with the other characters having the ability to pull it off. He's one character that is introduced without any real purpose other than to show Georges' position was perhaps not as secure as he seemed to think it was.

     
  • At 10:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The more I think about it, the more I'm inclined to look at Georges' boss/director. If the film is an allegory for the 1961 massacre, who plays the role of the police, or government, who orchestrated the gruesome thing? Whatever issues there were between the French and Algerian people, the actual blood shed came about because of an external authority playing puppeteer (luring the Algerians to the river).

    In the case of Georges' boss/director, he has means (works in television), opportunity (no known obstacles), and motive (network doesn't want Georges there anymore). Both his concern about George & the tape, and his reassurance about the network continuing his show, ring hollow. He tells Georges that "everything will work out, it always does", glossing over reality and reinforcing Georges' need to hide from any harsh truths.

    It is also possible that Georges as a child represents the police, luring Majid to his "destruction" but a bit harder to swallow as Georges is exactly that, a child. Unless childhood represents the french's ignorance? Which seems a benign view for this movie. If Georges the child does represent the police, then it would make sense that Majid or his son would be doing the luring now in poetic retaliation. But why would Majid, an apparently broken man, wait until now? And why would his son set something in motion with such disastrous results, and not seem to feel any sense of responsibility for his fathers' death? (another childish act of ignorance?) And that scenario still doesn't address the question of the government's role in the massacre, which I find hard to believe would be overlooked in this movie. Unless Haneke really does blame the wealthy for all racism, which would be pretty hard to buy, considering members of racist groups like white supremacists are usually anything but wealthy.

    As for the boys meeting in the end. To me that indicates that the future of the Algerian/French situation is unclear and potentially unstable. Based on what happened, there's no reason to believe that everyone is suddenly friends, but it could demonstrate a bond being formed between the new generation, whether positive or negative is yet to be known.

    I saw this movie on television, and I wasn't giving it my complete attention in the beginning, which I now regret. When I get a chance I'm going to rent the DVD and see if there are any more clues that would support my theory of Georges' boss/director being responsible. At one point in the movie, I remember Georges asking who would do such a thing and named someone as a possible prankster. Who was the person he named? Has anyone followed that clue to the end?

     
  • At 10:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have one more thing to add. The network wanting to be rid of Georges (an intellectual...hmmmm) is a direct parallel to the French Government wanting to be rid of the Algerians. Under the guise of helping them, the police lured them into a trap. I can see Georges' boss doing the same thing, a little digging into his past and finding an easy set up for a scandal that could end his career, thus satisfying the goals of the network (government). He would not have foreseen the suicide, but an altercation, or a great deal of anger would be expected, and caught on film, wouldn't look good for Georges' career.

    In the end, I doubt that Georges going to bed and covering his head would prevent the story from getting out that Georges had been involved in the bullying and ultimate suicide of an Algerian man. Perhaps this was slightly acknowledged in Georges' request to his wife to tell his son not to "go too hard on me". Another huge reality denying error on Georges behalf, completely underestimating his son's reaction to his fathers' actions, as seen in the final meeting between his son and the son of Majid.

     
  • At 11:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Actually, make that 2 more things. The director/boss as culprit also satisfies the qustion of the still camera watching Georges when he is called away from the set to retrieve another message from his stalker. And I think it might also be an inside joke for Haneke, who casts his own alter ego in the movie, as string puller.

    I've been signing in under "anonymous" but if anyone wants to address me directly, my name is Penny H. Unlikely as that may be since it seems no one has posted here in years. But I had to sort this out in my own head. Can't wait to watch it again and test my theories.

     
  • At 12:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Me yet again. Doesn't there also seem to be some commentary on the media here, being able to edit reality to create anything it wants? For example, in the case where the guest author's words are edited to appear to be about homosexuality? Another case for the director as culprit, manipulating the situation through film and editing to create a possibly false scenario of retaliation on the part of Majid.

    On an entirely different note, I also find the theory suggested above about the rape plausible (in light of the homosexuality segment manipulation), because, frankly, it is difficult to understand why Majid would kill himself simply because he was being accused by Georges of stalking him. Over reaction at such a late date, to put it mildly.

    penny

     
  • At 6:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm going on the belief that the movie is nothing more than lies and finding the HIDDEN truth.

    George, George's boss, Anne, Majid & son, Pierrot, the couple who went on vacation/came back early? and even the joke story teller guest at the dinner party all posed questions of truth and lies.

    I'm also going with the alliance of Majid, his son and Pierrot or just Pierrot and Majid's son as the ones behind the videos/scheme. Some questions wasn't answered directly, how would a camera end up in Majid's house, the ending meeting...Ect..ect.

    Only a few people knew what really happened. Majid, Majid's son and George but with the way Pierrot acted towards his father and the few questions during Pierrot's conversations like with his mother all lead me to believe Pierrot knew what was going on and was in on it.

    Over all an interesting movie.

    -Rat-

     
  • At 12:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So Majid's son and Pierrot are related..cousins, if Majid and George are actually half brothers, evidenced by georges mother stating what a sad time it was, but she couldn't reveal the reason she was so upset he was sent away? Pierrots disgust with his own mother's possible adultery stems from his fear that he may have a similar situation to deal with in his own future...and his cousin now explains this to him and he is actually working with Majid's son to keep history from repeating itself?
    Majid killing himself because he wanted George to know it was a suicide...and that since he had nothing left for his son anyways, he would now be Georges responsibility as well. The three, Majid, his son and Pierrot work together to make sure he is held resposnsible.

     
  • At 4:34 AM, Anonymous Fernando said…

    I'm amusing that it's very late to add to a discussion which took place years ago, but the comments above seem to be the only place to find other helpful thoughts about the film.

    To me the political usage in this film would be very difficult thing for a person, who's not quite so smart, to catch on to. So, there must be another reason for the film.

    In my opinion the video cassette's recorder is Georges. The actual tapes and drawings don't excist. They're just substitutes for troubles that Georges is having, because he keeps remembering about what he did to Majid. I honestly believe there was more to what Georges did to Majid than just the chicken and getting him sent away.

    I think Georges knew where Majid was living the whole time because when he's watching the tape in the car, he was able to make out the location without the lettering to be slightly clear. And again, these tapes are this memories meaning he had been there before. Anyways. When Majid or his son start threatening to reveal what else Georges did to Majid (the boss getting the tape) Georges goes back and kills Majid. Because it seems to me that Georges had to tell himself xontinously that it was 'suicide,' even when Majid son went to see him he quickly said 'it was suicide.'

    The ending to me meant that everything catches up to you. Majid's son is going to get even, Majid's son is karma.

    Feel free to email me. (fer_san_gar@yahoo.com)

     
  • At 12:06 PM, Anonymous Alex M said…

    19th October 2012 for reference, so I'm the better part of a decade late.

    I'm on board with the Pierrot and Majid's son in cahoots theory. Last scene as first scene makes it crystal clear - and also explains the "where's Pierrot?" "I Don't know. He'll be home soon." dialogue that is at the very beginning of the film - he's slightly late because he was chatting with Majid. It also gels with Majid's son's line of "Threats. You're very good at those" - by far the most likely way he'd know of such being if he had viewed the footage at Majid's apartment.

    The 'invisible camera' issue isn't something that bothers me. I don't buy that viewers can determine the exact location of the camera by mentally triangulating the intro footage and later footage of the street where it would have been. Further, cameras can be small. "How did I not see it?" to me was just our first introduction to Georges' self-involvement.

    I also can't even remotely humour the 'the director put the cassettes into the film' theory since, as a film world prole, I want to think of this film as not terrible.

    I'm in agreement with the comment that the bloodied cock scene and cutting the edit to the guest's references to homosexuality are about Majid raping Georges while they grew up. Ordinarily I hate unsubstantiated "maybe they were gay" comments where it's unlikely but impossible to disprove, but I think in this case it explains the "you were older and bigger, what was I supposed to do?" comment where little else does. I think that scene is a triple entendre with literal rooster slaughter, cock as France, and cock as literal genitalia which if intended, as I think it is, is awesome.

    I also lean toward thinking that the roles were actually reversed and that Georges was the one who cut Majid - that incident necessitating one boy needing to go away, the biological son winning despite his wrongdoing. It doesn't make much sense that Majid's son would taunt Georges with Majid's violent act.

    Alternatively Majid could have indeed cut Georges nose in retaliation for the slipping glass into Majid's food. To me the "nose comment" was just banter, but I concede diminishing the significance of dialogue is a dangerous area for theory credibility. The theory also explains George's mother's distance from her son - in that he either attacked Majid with an axe (and still stayed at the house due to him being the biological son when it being clear one boy must go), or put glass in his food. It's also about the only thing that could explain Majid's ultimate guilty suicide.

    Great film though! At first I wasn't sure if I loved it or hated it due to not feeling like there were enough available pieces to complete the puzzle for the viewer. But, having read this page, for me it's on the right side of the "movies that make you think" vs "movies with unsufficient information for the viewer to work things out on their own without an interview with the director" divide.

     
  • At 9:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I must say that I turned this film on only in the middle (it was on television in the UK tonight). However, I'm pretty sure Majid refers to George's mother (when he says she's ill) as 'your mother'; I may be wrong. If they were half-brothers, surely he wouldn't? Having turned on in the middle, whilst watching this scene I was trying to work out what their relationship was - and brothers was what came to mind. But I think not, if the above was actually said. Also - and again, forgive me if this is contradicted in a part of the film I didn't see, but whilst we know who Pierrot and Majid's son are ie we know they are chatting at the end (allegedly; as per someone else above - even though I was looking out for it, I couldn't see it. I did happen to look away at the beginning of the scene though) - do they know who each other is? Finally, ref. the Director leaving the tapes - did he do the drawings and make the 'phone calls too? Nobody mentions all three.

    If I get a chance to watch the film all the way through, I may come to realise that these comments are stupid. So, forgive me if they are!

    As for the camera shadow in shot (although I didn't see it), and the comment about it not being accidental - there's a series shown in the UK which consits only of highlighting mistakes made in films.

     
  • At 9:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Also, no-one - from what I read - mentions Majid stating that he felt sick when he saw Georges, and he didn't know why (I'm pretty sure I'm not imagining that). He says something like 'Then...' and he makes a moving fist signal, accompanied by a 'poof' sound (I think). If Majid were a perpetrator of anything - including sexual assault of Georges - then why would he feel sick, and why would he make the fist signal? I got the impression from that - and the ensuing conversation - that Georges beat Majid up. However, I was then surprised at the 'What could I do; you were bigger and stronger' (or whatever) comment. With not much of the back-story to hand (having turned on in the middle), I simply concluded that it was a case of a bully striking before being struck ie you were bigger and stronger than me, but rather than wait for you to hit me - I hit you. In that whole scene, Majid comes across as the more placid/weak/put-upon - not as a perpetrator. That did exacerbate my surprise at the 'You were bigger and stronger blah' comment.

    Also, by this point, I was beginning to confirm that this film was not going to be 'normal', hence I had this site up before the film ended. Another thing in that scene which I just could not understand, was when Georges is at the door talking to Majid, there is a subtitle which says 'Who are you?'. I attributed it to Georges (although I wasn't sure, since it wasn't up for long), and then kept thinking: how could he not know who the man in the flat is, and yet manage to track him down? Again, I'm pretty sure I didn't imagine it - yet I can't work out a reason for it. Anyone care to comment?

    Again, apologies if my comments are stupid having seen only a part of the film.

     
  • At 9:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh wait, I'm being an idiot. The poof/fist thing was as if to say: 'And then it hit me', right?

    Wait. Why would someone wreak such revenge on someone else that they needed reminding of? If Majid harboured a grudge, then surely he wouldn't need any kind of reminding of Georges' existence via something as objective as hearing his name? Surely Georges would have been on his mind/in the back of his mind his whole life? You don't just forget someone whom you feel has wronged you. No, he wouldn't have known what he looked like as an adult - but the feeling I got was that hearing Georges' name brought the memories back, and reminded Majid of Georges' existence.

    However, why did Majid say that he wasn't surprised to see Georges, and something like: that he expected him to come by?

    I must watch this film from start to finish!

     
  • At 10:05 PM, Anonymous Claire said…

    This film terrified me. I wish I had never watched it, but now that I have I at least want to understand it. One maybe important point is lost in translation. When Georges explains what he did, he uses the word "cafter". This actually means to tell on someone or rat on someone, not lie. Later in the conversation, he says he doesn't remember, maybe it was made up stuff, but I think it is important that he repeatedly uses that word and not "mentir," which means to lie.

     
  • At 7:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i just watched the film. i find it quite hauntingly beautiful. as a brother to to a man who committed suicide the film for me highlights how little we know of the affect of childhood memories on adult minds. perhaps the film is powerful as it shows how badly the relationships in the main family are being maintained. Even the mother of georges knows something is up. whats up is the past being swept under the carpet. why did majid kill himself? perhaps his whole life was leading up to that point when his long lost brother is supposed to say sorry and instead he is threatened. what george id is unimportant. his character represents regret and isolation. the rest of his family suffer becaause of it. i think the film is one that will stay with me not only because we dont know why. its the very not knowing that makes it so good.we never know whats going on in peoples heads.

     
  • At 3:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think the video camera is simply a plot device, a catalyst if you like, or a mirror that causes Georges to examine his own conscience. He obviously did something that he regrets to get rid of Majod in their childhood. Now his guilt returns to haunt him. So the story is an allegorical one, and the final scene is simply a statement that the youth are not constrained by the past.

     
  • At 10:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    07/05/13 just watched on dvd.
    I thinks it’s interesting that all the discussion so far has focussed on who did the hidden filming and not on why Majid killed himself.
    Both are unanswered or unanswerable questions but which is more important?
    If the film is a Franco-Algerian allegory then all of us ignoring the death of an innocent (?) Algerian is almost like replaying history.
    If i had to guess on the above, I would say Majid suffered some wrong from George and the Family that meant instead of a living a privileged life with a loving adopted family he led a tough life which ended with him having materially nothing. I sense he had forgiven the family and now all he hoped for was some sort of acknowledgement of what had happened to him. He had made no attempt to seek this out but maintained an interest in the family and therefore knew about George and his mother. It seems that the dignity he had shown in response to what had been done to him was very central to his self-worth. He also placed a great store by raising his son well.
    The first confrontation with George made him realise that the acknowledgement he had spent his life waiting for would never be forthcoming. The second (suicide) confrontation seems to be after he came to realise that his son is involved in this campaign of intimidation.
    I think he knew in his suicide that he was being filmed and therefore his suicide was a message to both.
    Firstly to George for saying you ruined my life and i hold you responsible even if you don’t
    Secondly to his son, who by his actions of intimidating George’s family had stripped Majid of his quiet dignity with which had responded to what had happened to him and sadly proved to him that in some ways his son, no matter his best efforts in raising him, had turned out no better then George.
    Accepting these two facts led him to his suicide.
    I judge films by how much they stick in your memory and/or make you think. By those criteria this was simply a brilliant film.

     
  • At 3:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    07/05/13

    Saw this film last night for the first time. The one thing I did not read on this blog is that the film is about "answers" and "truth". For most people these are both HIDDEN entirely. The overall conclusion looking at all these posts in their totality is that this is the only correct conclusion to be drawn. Nothing is conclusive (answers) and all reality is subjective (truth). Everything in the film is hidden, not the reference to homosexuality in the editing room scene...yet another subject matter that has been traditionally hidden. The treatment of the "others" is a form of racism (hidden for PC reasons), Pierrot's motives are hidden, Georges treatment of Majid is hidden even from his wife. Etc, Etc, Etc.

    The only truth in the movie is that answers are, perhaps, unknowable (A very French philosophy in the line of Jean-Paul Satre), and the truth of motives are almost always hidden from from others, and even perhaps from yourself.

     
  • At 4:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    In above post "Not the reference" should be "Notice the reference"

     
  • At 3:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have seen so many great foreign films explode at the end with a horrible ending ruining a great film. Why can't these directors tie things up? It's not like there's gonna be a sequel. I think the son did the tapes and drawings because he was starved for attention. Now one question I have...did Auteil character commit suicide too? He took all his clothes and those pill. I think he committed suicide too

     
  • At 10:27 PM, Blogger AL Miah said…

    AL from Bristol UK

    I have taken 3 hours to read all the comments after watching this movie....

    What sent goose bumps and a chill down my neck was the horror behind the stories between the two families...

    It looked like the mother had an affair and the half child was getting raped by George ( which is why George keeps dreaming up blood on the cock ) to hide the actual events he was guilty of.
    He then wanted to get rid of Majid as he was sharing the room with his half brother who he was raping . So He put glass in the food and Majid looked terrified and shocked at what George had actually done to him?
    George then came up with the plan to kill the half brother before word gets out that he was raping him and then blamed it on Majid.
    Majid knew of the goings on and had to keep quiet because he was an outsider to fostered by them. This guilt stopped him from progressing which is why he is in a poor dwelling.
    Majid kept this guilt of the half brother which is related to Majid also although George is no relation, he has the white superior power as he is the sibling ...
    Georges Mother knew that Majid did not kill the half brother although he was kicked out she kept quiet because she was guilty of affair... it looked like George was punishing his mother , just like Pierrot was punishing his own mother incase the same incident happened again ..
    This was known to Pierrot through Majids son who knows they are both cousins.
    George is hostile , cold and has no empathy due to his cuckoo tactics it left him shallow.
    Majid thought that George would come to thank him after all these years and honour him for his brotherly conduct on saving him from going to a care home. but instead George raged at him with no empathy and belittled and even racially abandoned him as he did before...
    This is why he broke down and cried.... When he mentioned " you were bigger than me? " This was to explain why Majid was still upset that George would do such a cowardice act as to put glass in his food... and George explained you were bigger so I couldn't fight you... Majid then bashed his nose because of that which Majid mentioned .
    When Majid saw the picture of blood from the mouth and so he thought his son may have done it because his son visited the mother as she was ready to tell the truth before she went to the grave and she wanted to avenge her love childs death by letting the cat out the bag. ... when initially it was Pierrot who did the drawings and the video's...with help of Majids son and also Georges mother . She knew it was time to tell them of the stories . That is why they were both called to go there and the video was made ...
    The affair with pierrot's mother was told to him by his father as his father was jealous and wanted his son to mention it to her...
    The pale skinned women I believe lived separately and was the mother to Majids son which is why she dropped Pierrot off home.
    Peirrot and Majids son spent time together doctoring the videos so as to honour the now dead half brother that was the Grandmothers last wishes .
    Pierrot is not cousins with Majids son but is close because he knows the story of what Majid did to save his father and he Honours them for that.
    George found out what exactly happened when he looked startled at the end when Majids son said it was not him!
    George then concluded that his son has been conspiring with his Grandmother which is why he knows so much and has had the funds to do it from her and the knowledge...
    He did not commit suicide... he for the 1st time took two pills so he can sleep without guilty dreams anymore as his son knew the truth then so should he face the truth!!

     
  • At 10:32 PM, Blogger AL Miah said…

    AL from Bristol...


    Which is why he dreamt of when Majid was dragged off by the father in the car... which was the truth and not the lie about the cock getting its head chopped off which was him raping his half brother..but he brainwashed himself to believe the story that Majid is the bad guy so he can live with no guilt....
    This is why he asked for his son to take it easy on him when he wakes up because he knew he would face the truth and his son knew everyting apart from the rape which only Majid knew and that is why Majid died , because his own half brother was murdered and he was sent away by the devil child (George)
    The other bits of videos are just scenes..like the end part and the dream (when Majid was a boy taken away)
    You have to realise all the videos were handed in..the rest were just scenes from the movie...
    The boss kept the video because he knew George is a spineless man and would use that against him if need be...
    I cannot write anymore as I think im going to collapse into a Coma after reading all this and know writing my own review....
    Goodnight from AL :)

     

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