ONTD

8:15 pm - 11/16/2012

Michael Haneke drags "Schindler's List", "Downfall"



As part of The Hollywood Reporter's Roundtable series, THR's executive editor Stephen Galloway sat down at The Residences at the W Hollywood with a panel of writers that included Michael Haneke and John Krasinski in a conversation that featured a discussion of the fine line between humanizing and sympathizing with certain historical figures.

THR: OK, if you were going to show Osama bin Laden, to what extent do you humanize a guy like that? There was a very good German film, Downfall, about the last days of Hitler, and it was an extraordinary human portrait. The danger is whitewashing what he's done.

Michael Haneke: I have to say that I argued with Downfall writer-producer Bernd Eichinger about the film. I found it both repulsive and dumb. When you're dealing with a figure of such a deep historical context, what are you doing with him? You're creating melodrama. You're trying to move your spectators, but what emotions are you calling on? Your responsibility entails enabling your audience to remain independent and free of manipulation. The question is, how seriously do I take my viewer and to what extent do I provide him with the opportunity of creating his own opinion? Am I trying to force my opinion on the spectator?

THR: Would you make a film about Hitler?

Haneke: No. It's impossible for me, turning this into entertainment. That's why I have problems with Steven Spielberg's film about the concentration camps [Schindler's List]. The mere idea of trying to create suspense out of the question of whether the showerhead gas is going to come is unspeakable. For me, the only film about the Holocaust that is responsible is Alain Resnais' Night and Fog. Resnais asks the spectator: What do you think about this? What does this mean to you?

Chris Terrio: I'm very interested in what Michael said about the suspense of the shower in Schindler's List because in a sense it's the same in Argo. I'm not sure about the ethical implications of taking real people's lives and trying to make it a nail-biter.

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The Hollywood Reporter roundtables typically draw diverse groups of talented people. But the six men who gathered Oct. 2 at The Residences at the W Hollywood might be among the most eclectic bunch we've ever assembled. Journalist and Oscar-winning screenwriter Mark Boal, 39, chronicles the manhunt for Osama bin Laden in his still-unfinished Zero Dark Thirty, while comedy kingpin Judd Apatow, 44, takes funny aim at his own family life in This Is 40. German auteur Michael Haneke, 70, brought along a translator to help him discuss his Palme d'Or-winning Amour with sitcom star-turned-scribe John Krasinski, 33, who wrote the anti-fracking drama Promised Land with Matt Damon. And veteran writer David Magee, 50, shared stories about his fantasy spectacle Life of Pi with Chris Terrio, 35, whose Argo marks his first feature screenwriting credit.

You can also watch the (NSFW) scene mentioned from "Schindler's List", followed by "Night and Fog", in full, below:

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THR, The PLaylist
kurtvonnegut 16th-Nov-2012 10:48 pm (UTC)
Yes. And at the end they all came out and it suddenly became about what a hero the man who hid them was. Not that he wasn't, but it left me feeling really uneasy about how the focus turned off the victims and to the savior.
brokenseas 16th-Nov-2012 10:55 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that type of stuff just leaves a sour taste in my mouth. And the movie that is currently responsible for that taste is Lincoln.
raunchyb 16th-Nov-2012 11:29 pm (UTC)
What was wrong with Lincoln? (I haven't seen it.)
brokenseas 16th-Nov-2012 11:42 pm (UTC)
Mostly the portrayal (or lack of portrayal) of African Americans. This is a really good summary of the problems: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/13/opinion/in-spielbergs-lincoln-passive-black-characters.html
raunchyb 17th-Nov-2012 12:29 am (UTC)
Ugh, that's disappointing (but not surprising).
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