Michael Haneke: interview

0

Comments

Add +

Uncompromising, austere, rigorously intellectual: Michael Haneke seems like the last director to remake his work for an American audience, and yet that's excatly what he's done. Time Out asks him about 'Funny Games US'

In a near shot-for-shot remake of the original, ‘Funny Games US’ stars Naomi Watts (a performance of raw, terrified vulnerability) and Tim Roth as the husband and wife attacked by Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet’s polite thugs. Haneke’s candid recollection of working with a US crew (‘Terrible! There are so many people. They go so slowly. It makes me sick.’) might not win him any PR awards, but it happily suggests that Europe is not about to lose one of its most singular voices to Hollywood.

Did you make the US version because the original didn’t reach many US viewers?
‘It’s very simple. The first film didn’t find its public among English-language viewers. So when I had the proposition to remake it I thought maybe we had an opportunity to reach the audience for which it was made: the violent consumer!’

So what do you hope the reaction will be from this audience?
‘I have no real reaction from “normal” audiences yet because it was only the premiere in New York a couple of nights ago. It was a special public: they were friends of the film. But I think the reaction will be as it was with the first film: some will be very enthusiastic, others will be very against the film. I hope so! It’s a provocative film so I hope the provocation works.’

How did you prepare the actors?
‘I said to the actors, “don’t look at the [original] film during shooting,” because it puts a limit on their freedom and they followed that. If you’re an
actor it would be deadly just to copy the original arrangements.’

But as a director that’s more or less exactly what you were doing. I wonder how you found the process.

‘It’s difficult. If you have a very good moment from an actor, you want to have the same moment from the new actor – which is not very fair. That’s the problem. I worked for 20 years in the theatre and sometimes directed the same play in different theatres with different actors, so I know it’s difficult. But it is also challenging and exciting because you discover new things.’

The film makes us think about cinema and violence. Has cinema become more violent since the first version?

‘Of course. That’s not an opinion, it’s a fact. In the past ten years the depiction of consumable violence has greatly increased. Something like “torture porn” is a development from the past ten years. The film is now more topical.’

So how aware of ‘torture porn’ examples such as ‘Saw’ are you?

‘From time to time I looked to these films for information but I’m not a big fan, as you can imagine.’

The means by which we can view violent imagery has increased, especially through the internet.

‘Of course. I have an idea for a film about this phenomenon. Just the idea right now; it’s too early to tell. At the moment I’m doing a historical film set in a little village in the north of Germany before World War I. It’s about education, how children are brought up and raised – the generation who become the Nazi generation.’

Do you think of your movie in terms of ‘educating’ your audience?
‘It can influence people, like every work of art, but it’s small. The direct influence is very little, but life would be much less rich without art.’

Funny Games US’ opens on April 4.

Author: Edward Lawrenson



Users say



Top Stories

Meet the dream team: a preview of ‘Les Misérables’

Meet the dream team: a preview of ‘Les Misérables’

Director Tom Hooper and his cast tell us how they turned the super-musical into movie blockbuster.

Oscar predictions

Oscar predictions

The Time Out film team weighs in on the nominees for the 2013 Academy Awards

January film highlights 2013

January film highlights 2013

Get ready for the big guns… Spielberg, Tarantino and Bigelow

October film highlights

October film highlights

Daniel Craig’s 007 comeback, a genius indie romcom and all the mysteries behind ‘The Shining’ unravelled.

The Time Out film debate 2012 highlights

The Time Out film debate 2012 highlights

The results of our study on the state of films and filmgoing in 2012.

Read 'Time Out film debate 2012 highlights'

Martin Freeman interview

Martin Freeman interview

'The Hobbit' actor tells us why he wouldn't have a pint with Bilbo Baggins.

Sam Mendes interview

Sam Mendes interview

Dave Calhoun speaks to the director of 'Skyfall' about the latest film in the Bond franchise.

Ang Lee interview

Ang Lee interview

The genre-hopping director tells us how he invented a new genre with 'Life of Pi'

Michael Haneke interview

Michael Haneke interview

The twice Palme d'Or-winning director discusses 'Amour'.

Read our interview with Michael Haneke

Thomas Vinterberg interview

Thomas Vinterberg interview

The Danish director talks about his powerful new drama 'The Hunt'.

Read our interview with Thomas Vinterberg'

Ten things the 'Twilight' movies did for us

Ten things the 'Twilight' movies did for us

Time Out looks back at the impact of the 'Twilight' saga.

Discover what 'Twilight' has done for us

On the set of 'Sightseers'

On the set of 'Sightseers'

Time Out heads to the Lake District to visit director Ben Wheatley on set.

Read about our visit to the 'Sightseers' set

Tim Burton interview

Tim Burton interview

The director talks about 'Frankenweenie', which he describes as 'the ultimate memory piece'.

Read our interview with Tim burton

The top ten Christmas films of 2012

The top ten Christmas films of 2012

Our pick of the best films showing over the festive period.

Read 'The top ten Christmas films of 2012'

What's your film guilty pleasure?

What's your film guilty pleasure?

Mean Girls? Dirty Dancing? Tell us your favourite film guilty pleasure.

Read 'Film guilty pleasures'

When teen stars turn serious

When teen stars turn serious

Ten young actors come of age on the silver screen.

Read 'When teen stars turn serious'

50 years of James Bond

50 years of James Bond

From Connery to Craig, we revisit all 22 Bond films.

Read '50 years of James Bond'

Paul Thomas Anderson interview

Paul Thomas Anderson interview

The director talks Scientology and working with Joaquin Phoenix.

Read the interview

Hilarious horror films

Hilarious horror films


Ten funny horror movies which went spectacularly off the rails.

Read 'Hilarious horror films'

Martin McDonagh interview

Martin McDonagh interview

The director talks psychopaths and theatre – 'my least favourite artform'.

Read the interview

Autumn horror films

Autumn horror films

We round-up the five best horror movies of Autumn 2012.

Read about this Autumn's best horror movies

On the set of Skyfall

On the set of Skyfall

Time Out visits Istanbul to see the latest Bond movie being made.

Read 'On the set of Skyfall'

Bond: then and now

Bond: then and now

Does Skyfall refresh or rehash the James Bond franchise?

Sally Potter interview

Sally Potter interview

The British director explains why 'Ginger and Rosa' is her most mainstream film yet.

Daniel Craig interview

Daniel Craig interview

'I’m almost as in demand as Brad Pitt’