My rating: 7
IMDB rating: 7.3
Have you ever wondered what a film without any music would be like? Or maybe you have contemplated the function of music in film and realised that without these ’emotional pointers’, the film would be quite difficult to watch? This film by award-winning Michael Haneke does exactly that, he removes music from the film and by doing so focuses attention on the silences.
Silence, in this film, does not have a single layered meaning either. There are different types of silences in this film. The first of which is the physical silence; through the absence of non-diegetic music, silence in relationships (Anne & Georges) and silence through inaccessible characters.
The second type of silence that is found in this film is, ideological silence. One of the main happenings in this film is the public scandal where, in 1961, Algerians were drowned in the river Seine. This sets a whole range of things in motions than eventually ends with the sending of the video tapes.
This drowning was a huge embarrassment for the French government and it often seems that these things are rarely mentioned. Now, it seems that there are a resurgence of repressed memories in French public life through the return of the colonial oppressed. In that sense it is actually a silence that, now, is broken. There is also a clear reference to this in the movie itself; when Georges steps in front of the black man on his bicycle in the street, the confrontation that follows is a clear example of this return of the colonial oppressed.
On that note it is also interesting to note that studies on multidirectional memories have placed emphasis on the study of history (as I also mentioned in my review of The Battle of Algiers). In fact, as certainly all of us can agree; people in power have the ability to change history as they please. In South Africa, when we were still an Apartheid government, you will find that the history books of those days paint the indigenous people as evil and barbaric. The same happened even in the US.
This fact that history can change causes us to fight over which memories actually count. Another phenomena is the fact that there is now an hierarchical ordering of important memories by the ‘appalingness’ of the memory (in that sense the Holocaust would be the most important memory).
Another interesting dimension of memory is also addressed in Caché and that is the phenomena of post-memory. Memory can be transferred from one person to the next. This often happens, as it does in the movie, between a father and his children. The memory of what happened to Majid is transferred to his son and therefore the son now carries the memory and, in this case can choose to act upon it.
In terms of enjoyability; this film was truly challenging to watch. The movement is extremely slow, one is never sure if you are watching a tape or real-time and the absence of music make for quite a depressing milieu. I gave this film 7, because I realise its importance in the cinematic world and in that sense it is quite genius, but it truly is not a film you would watch for enjoyment.
Want to read more on Caché? Try these…