Nina Kusturica, a distant relative of Emir Kusturica, and Eva Testor made the Michael Haneke documentary in 2005 after filming the director over a two-year span and following his festival trips and filmmaking process. Nina Kusturica has studied filmmaking and editing at the Vienna Film University, where Haneke is teaching. The movie’s style and topics somewhat overlap with the 2009’s Michael Haneke documentary from the “Mein Leben” series (from German, “My Life”) by Felix and Gero von Boehm. This post discusses Heneke talking about reality and illusion, filmmaking, and film sound. The other post examines Michael Haneke’s personal and professional relationships with actress Susanne Lothar (playing in Haneke’s Funny Games), Juliette Binoche, and his wife Sussie, as well as his opinion of film violence, happiness, and the meaning of life.
Michael Haneke on reality and illusion
“24 Realities per Second” begins with Haneke’s discussion of reality and its relation to film. In response to the title of the movie, Haneke says (translation from German by filmslie.com staff, slightly different from the movie’s subtitles),“I always say film is 24 lies per second at the service of truth. Or at the service at the attempt to find the truth. Because I don’t know what the reality is.”
Later in the film when discussing how “Code Unknown” was based on real-life stories, Haneke says, “Sometimes reality is much more unbelievable than things you make up. […] But I like to be inspired by reality.”
When discussing his early movie experiences, Haneke remembers watching “Hamlet” by Laurence Olivier as a 5-year-old. He was so scared by the movie’s bleak beginning that he had to leave the cinema. About a year later in Denmark, he saw a movie based in the African savannah. He was so captivated by the power of images that was confused to find himself back in Denmark after the movie’s end. “I came to understand the power of illusion because I didn’t grow up with it.”
Michael Haneke remembers being inspired by the break of the fourth wall in “Tom Jones” by Tony Richardson—which may have been an influence for Haneke’s “Funny Games”—when the character looked at the camera and spoke to the audience.
“The break of illusion after an hour of film was such a shock, it completely dispelled my illusion,” Haneke says. His movie experiences helped him develop “mistrust for manipulation.”
Michael Haneke on filmmaking
For Michael Haneke making a film is always a reduction from the written material. “What I can do as a director is usually less than what I can imagine as an author.” And even though a good acting can improve things, “generally it’s unsatisfying.”
Haneke confirms Juliette Binoche’s comment (from another Michael Haneke documentary “My Life”) that the Austrian likes to be in control of the filmmaking process “because he knows exactly what he wants to say or do.”
“I want to see what I have in my head,” the director says. “Anything else doesn’t interest me.” Haneke admits sometimes he may be a little tough to the others on set.
According to him, the real work for a movie is done in the pre-production stage. After conceiving the idea and writing the script, the preparation stage puts the work together. Then comes the storyboarding part, in which Haneke thinks “very carefully about what needs to happen in each frame.” For him, storyboarding is the really productive stage of the filmmaking process, while the actual shoot is technical work.
According to his wife Susie (in “My Life,”) for Haneke “movies are his life.”
Michael Haneke on sound and music
“Music is the greatest pleasure one can indulge in,” Haneke says in “My Life.” The director considers music the closest art to cinema, as both rely significantly on rhythm. “A film’s musicality is the decisive factor that makes it succeed or fail.”
Juliette Binoche discusses Haneke’s failure to become a pianist: “I think he has a nostalgia about that failure and wants to conquer it through stories, through listening.”
Haneke says sound has always been very important for him. “The eyes have become a little blind, overfed with images.” Two of his movies, “The Piano Teacher,” and “Amour” use music as one of its central themes. Notable about Haneke’s use of music is that is largely on-screen, or diegetic—as in the case of his Funny Games.
You can watch the entire documentary “24 Realities per Second” here: