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.
Tags: Haneke, Caché, Cache, Hidden, movies, film, racism, Code Inconnu, French, Juliette Binoche, Daniel Auteuil