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The Seventh Continent

The Seventh Continent
1:44:00 | 1989

Categories: Drama, Thrillers

"Beautifully controlled and liberatingly intelligent," (Michael Wilmington, The Chicago Tribune), The Seventh Continent is the first theatrical film written and directed by German-born auteur Michael Haneke (The Piano Teacher, Caché). "A shocking and potent statement about our times" (Jonathan Rosenbaum, The Chicago Reader), this acute chronicle of a family degenerating into self-destruction is the first of a feature-film trilogy (concluding with Benny's Video and 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance) that centers on the intersections between media, alienation and violence.

Described by Haneke as a reflection on "the progressive emotional glaciation of Austria," The Seventh Continent focuses on George (Dieter Berner), a middling engineer, and his sardonic wife Anna (Birgit Doll). Unable to empathize with their daughter's compulsion for lying and uninterested in each other's emotional well-being, the couple turns their pedestrian way of life into a vortex of subjective malaise. And while a recurring ad for an Australian vacation stands as a signal of potential blissfulness, the couple's perfunctory melancholy eventually materializes into barbarism.

Based on a true story, and filmed as a succession of beautifully composed and yet mundane tableaux, this unsentimental depiction of individual and family collapse "ranks among the most truly terrifying in modern cinema" (Michael Wilmington, The Chicago Tribune). More than a metaphor of hope and escape, The Seventh Continent is a meticulous dive into the postmodern disregard of affect -- and a stark look at lives severed from feelings.

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