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Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Anne Ford

The idea that Majid's son was videotaping everything makes sense, but if so...then, the son had a hand in his own father's suicide. This is why this interpretation is so troubling: By causing Georges to remember the incidents of his childhood, Georges is thrusted back into Majid's life, stirring up torturous memories for the father. In this way, not only is Majid's blood on Georges hands, but also on the son of Majid.

Olga S.

I think that the film was crafted very skillfully. The fact that sons interacted at the end, really conflicts with the whole idea I had throughout the movie. This movie did not have an end that satisfied most people, but I think the goal of the film maker was to provoke conversations and even frustrate the viewer. That was the point. We were made to think about the relationship between the men and really try to fill our own blanks.

I enjoyed it.


I agree with Anne's point as well and feel it is reason enough to believe Majid's son did not film anything. Otherwise, his guilt would be much greater, as if he had commited patricide, and he would not have been able to approach Georges as he did (his words would apply to himself as well). Instead he is much calmer - as if the suicide was the end result of his father's long bout with depression and anger, feuled by Georges' wrongdoings both present and past.

My reading is that the tapes came from Georges' subconscious. Or, alternatively, from Haneke, the director. The tapes are memories that have haunted Georges, slowly rising to the surface. Much like the movie is forcing France to remember drowning Arab immigrants 30 years ago, the director is forcing Georges to remember kicking an innocent boy out of his parent's house similarly deep in the past.

We should not assume the Arabs are the bad guys, and all their motives are sinister. Majid has a Cape Fear-like presence at the beginning, but at the end you only feel sympathy for his sad life. The meeting between the sons is the director's last forced revelation for Georges and France - that while the previous generation downs pills and closes the curtains, the next generation has a clean slate and can overcome the anger, hostility, and inequality.

This reading makes the ending much more hopeful.

Damned Spot

I just saw the movie tonight on DVD and completely missed the two boys meeting at the end so thank you for pointing it out to me. I agree mostly with the authenticity article, I but see the movie on an even more metaphorical level than the author. To me, the video tapes are not being filmed or distributed by any real person, rather, the viewpoint is the next generation, the one that judges its forebears, as represented by the boys.

Georges is the reactionary French everyman of the 1960's, scared of being displaced/replaced in his privileged world by the immigrants, and so spreading lies about them. Interesting is that Georges incites Majid to kill a rooster, and as everyone who watches the World Cup knows, the rooster is traditionally symbolic of France itself. In effect, the reactionary Frenchman manipulates the immigrant Algerians into appearing like they are attacking traditional France and can thus justify the subsequently violent or abusive measures that are then taken.

Georges grows up trying not to blame himself; after all, he was only six and didn't know any better--an excuse still used to explain away slavery and all kinds of injustice - the people back then were in their infancy as a civilization and didnt' know any better.

Meanwhile, Majid grows up in an orphanage that breeds hatred, and ends up doing what so many of the displaced immigrants or natives of all nations do - committing suicide.

The metaphor continues and it is extremely cohesive once it starts making sense. What I like best of all, however, is how "misinterpretation' is included in this movie. While the audience is quite certain, for instance, that the Juliette Binoche character is merely friends with Pierre, Pierrot jumps to a hasty conclusion. Thus, the younger generation as voyeur or purveyor of history is shown not to be infallible, but in viewing the facts, is as susceptible to misinterpretation of the truth as their forebears. To me, knowing that the boys are together at the end is a masterstroke - will they act together as their fathers could not, or will they, through emotional insecurity or factual misinterpretation, continue the tensions of the past.


It's all bullshit. The movie sucked and you are just trying to rationalize your own inability to understand French film. Come on admit it!


Its great to read the comments here, the film made me look for perspectives of others and look at the different interpretations this film generates.

For myself, I like the idea of the end as symbolic for interaction between the next generation. As Haneke says in an interview, one of the three major reasons for making this film was that he wanted to bring up the disaster of 62 because he was horrified by the fact nobody ever spoke about it. I agree with the above that this is the major theme of the film.

But i don't agree with Anne's comment "then the son had a hand in his own father's suicide. This is why this interpretation is so troubling: By causing Georges to remember the incidents of his childhood, Georges is thrusted back into Majid's life, stirring up torturous memories for the father. In this way, not only is Majid's blood on Georges hands, but also on the son of Majid." If Majid's son was indeed involved in the tapes, therefore confronting France (or Georges) with the past, this doesn't make him guilty of suicide. Confronting France with its past is only a normal thing, it has affected Majid's son and his father's life so much. Stirring up memories doesn't make one responsible for suicide. Its the reaction to this confrontation (anger, threats, arrogance - e.g. when Georges mentiones money) that repeats the drama again. Even though a six year old might not be responsible for what he did - this is besides the point- a 40 something guy is. In the way he deals with these events NOW. And his actions are exactly the same as before, he has an opportunity to change things, but he doesn't handle the situation differently today. He rushes straight into accusation and fear (of himself and "the intruder"). He doesn't listen to Majid nor does he look, he doesn't really see him. Out of fear and anger, he fails to see what the history has done to Majid. Perhaps because he doesn't want to see. I am not saying Georges is therefore responsible for the suicide. But that's exactly the point of Haneke, i think, if no-one takes responsibily, nothing is ever going to change. I think that even though perhaps Georges is not responsible for the suicide, things might have worked out differently if he behaved differently. If he changed his behavior he could have prevented the repetition of history. Especially because Majid appeared very open to talk to Georges, despite Georges hostile attitude, perhaps even open to forgive him. Georges hostility is really what caused the drama to escalate.

I think the interaction between Georges and his wife is also a methaphor for the way the french dealt with 62 amongst themselves. The fact that he lies about his suspicion and his visit to Majid and that he never mentioned the events of his childhood. In all his political correctness and literary elitism, he shoves everything under the carpet and it comes back to haunt him. Facing history is the only way to learn and change.

And Georges IS responsible for not handeling things better. In all the time between the departure of Majid as a kid and Georges in the present, he could have gone looking for Majid, track him down, show some interest or concern. Playing the victim is the easy way out and discharges you from looking critically at your own behavior, and that's excactly what Georges does. This is an important warning today in a world in which our actions are controlled by fear and fuelled by misunderstanding as a consequence of failure to communicate and failure to listen carefully to what others have to say. Thats why the end is so strong, will the next generation be able to interact? In which way will they interact? This is in fact still open, hence the open end of the film.

But i disagree with Jim when he says this generation has a clean slate. In fact, they have a lot to carry, look at Majid's son. Their task is even more difficult, carrying the burden of their parents un-dealt-with frustrations and pain.

Jim Buckley

1. This film is not a literal whodunit- and I believe that if you take it for "what is is" you will tie yourself in knots.

I think it makes nonsense of the film to think that the Algerian father and his son or anyone else were perpetrators of actions of revenge and retribution. On the contrary, their role was clearly saintly if anything- they are all victims who bear their sufferings admirably. There was not one single point of dialogue in the film to suggest otherwise. The immense suffering and gentleness of the father and the fiercely calm, proud bearing of the son bear this out. Their role was very clearly one of tragic and very moving innocence (hence all the political analogy, parable stuff).The personal is always allegorical, with a connection to the political (the race issue). The white middle classes are the perpetrators (yes, even the lovely Juliette Bioche who can only hover on the edge of realisation of what a screwed up prat her husband is with all its wider social implications- and, by extension, for her middle class ethos also). I thought the scene with the cyclist was rampant (!) with meaning ("neither of us was looking"), as was the oily sympathy & "concern" of George's' boss. All the highly intellectual televised prattling (the TV talk show) doesn't get close to the nub of huge social issues. But Juliette never makes the leap of realisation coupled with action. However difficult it might be, in the end they all stick together, denying the truth that lies behind their busy lives. The beginning of the whole story is the Seine riots/murders of '61 (political) and the horrendous actions of of a six year old white, middle class boy (personal).

2. If so, the key to the film has to be in the role of the use of and concept of the video/film as a cinematic device to bring to the forefront of both the audience and the key characters a confrontation with the nasties that they don't like to face up to. If I'm right this must be the hardest thing to understand because it is so unconventional (you are always asking "Did this really happen?"). Also- if this is right- it must be very unusual in the degree to which audience and leading characters get mixed up, forced to collude, confronted with issues to think about & take on board. If the director didn't think of it (and I think he did), someone else should!- or not. Every "video" scene is a device that brings the key characters closer to the issues they should be confronting. At the point of the shock scene they become indistinguishable from the "real" film. You assume it is going to crop up later, but it turns out that that is the culmination of the film and where it has been leading to.
3. This leads on to the final scene- and this is where it gets very it gets really tricky! The two sons get together and are talking together easily, as friends should be. It is only a glimpse (I missed it because I didn't know what to look for and therefore missed the ethnic Algerian youth- my wife pointed it out). It is a glimpse (if you are lucky and attentive enough to catch it) of how things should be (OR it is an insertion of "evidence" offered by son of Majid to son of Georges- evidence that leads to son to questio his mothe in the earlier scene. Whatever it is, it is not an answer to the conventional whodunnit question; i.e. "ah- they were in cahoots all along!". Quite the opposite - it is perhaps a fleeting glimpse of what could have been.

That's one of the wonderful things about this film- it makes you look in the wrong direction in order to bring you back to the reality place. And then it means so much more. To me that is the essence of this film.

By the way, I think my wife (Ronwen- yes- Cymraeg/Welsh is right that Anne (Julie) was not having an affair with the other guy (Pierre?). He clearly loved her (idiot that he is!) but she was content to take his selfless comfort and love without being able to return it. If so, this makes the director's mind exceedingly clever and devious! Might be reading too much into that. However, it is definitely not clear whether they are shagging one another. So the mother (Anne) might have been technically innocent even tho' Pierrot was devastated by her perceived infedelity (in terms of having a totally unloving relationship with daddy). SO- Pierrot was actually seeing the truth! Hmmm.

In summation- do not take the video scenes literally. They are a cimetic device to reveal the truth being pulled out of their hiding places.

A totally brilliant and excededingly clever film!


That's like saying 'ignore what happens in the film and just buy this offline interpertation'. That doesn't work for me. You have to take the video scenes literally because they arrive in a plasic bag outside the front door and are viewed by multiple characters with voice over. The film goes to some lengths to emphasise the fims are real.

Who made them? For me, Majid's son is the most likely but its far from clear. Most viewer will try to answer this puzzle. To watch the film and not to look for real answers after beeing given such a heavy steer through the direction, would be absurd.


hi there tom i got it from a mate so this is the site
filling address , there very helpfull , mention myself told you to ring


At 20:37, as Georges and his son walk to the car, what is the pamphlet that Georges picks up from the car's windshield?


All ethnographists sulohd invest in this app! Haha. As technology continues to evolve, it is necessary for anthropologists and social nutheads to progress with technology. This app will help provide widespread accessibility for the contemporary emerging practice of sensory ethnography. Kudos to the designer.DT


From his sister and behrotr-in-law we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your kind words. We have been fortunate enough to meet some of his England family over the years but one day hope to travel and meet you all. His time with St George's is something he valued and very often talked about the great friendships he and Madonna had made. He will be dearly missed by us all. Thank you all for giving him such special memories.Love to you all,Rachel & Matt Dean


it all.I remember evroeyne going to Shrewsbury for Mike's last match when he scored 100 to win the 20/20 cup knockout. We took the ground over and Mike got an amazing ovation as he walked in. I will always remember that day in September 2004. Malcolm Webster Vice Chairman St Georges CC

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