Der siebente Kontinent

Der siebente Kontinent

An Austrian family who plan on escaping to Australia seem caught up in their daily routine, only troubled by minor incidents. However, behind their apparent calm and repetitive existence, they are actually planning something sinister.


“The film is about the life of Georg, his wife Anna and their daughter Eva over a period of three years: it is the story of a successful career, it is the story of the price of conformity, it is the story of mental short-sightedness, it is a family story and it is the story of a lived consequence.”

Michael Haneke1


BOMB Magazine: And your interest in Adorno?

Michael Haneke: But what do you want to hear? (laughter) When I was young, he was a huge influence. I studied philosophy and psychology, and I graduated with a degree in philosophy. Adorno and Wittgenstein were the two writers who influenced me the most. Now I don’t read as much, but when you are young and sort of looking for a vision of the world, you are looking for people who would influence you, who would guide you. So I’m part of the 1968 generation when everybody was influenced by the Frankfurt School.

One of the other members of the Frankfurt School, Erich Fromm, wrote about how capitalist society reproduces its structures within its members. Your first film, The Seventh Continent, has always suggested to me the ways that we are the victims of the structures that we’ve built.

I think the movie explained that quite clearly. I don’t know what I can add. To me it’s obvious that we create the walls around us, we create difficulties. But this is a banality. Actually, the horrible thing is that people are trying to destroy things that have destroyed them already. And these are things that they themselves have built. There’s an expression in German, ‘destroy the things that have destroyed you.’ This destruction of things that destroyed their lives is not a deliberate action. They destroy the things that have destroyed them in the same painful way that they created this universe that now smothers them. This is the real tragedy because all the destruction that they provoke is not a deliberate act. It cannot liberate them. 

It’s a difficult film, I think, for many people.

It’s not a revolutionary film, it’s a bitter film.2


“In The Seventh Continent, Haneke seems to draw inspiration from Bresson, in the scene where little Evi waits for her father in a parking lot: We hear, “in the air,” a precise passage from Alban Berg’s violin concerto “in memory of an angel” (the famous chorale that evokes Bach) without being able to identify its source, then, as often happens, we realize only retroactively that the music was diegetic, ending suddenly and brutally when a car owner starts his car. Of course, we do not know if the young girl heard this music, nor, a fortiori, if the music left any impression on her. The brutality of the music’s interruption by a character is a cinematographic effect, which consists of imitating, within the diegesis, a process available to cinema itself with regard to the reality it describes or reconstructs: the power to cut and to eliminate.
Cinema is in fact an art that brutally appropriates beautiful music and can then cut it (through editing), or drown it out (through sound mixing). In the case of Bresson’s and Haneke’s films, it is the very action – or clumsiness – of a character that interrupts the music, whereas in Godard’s films this effect is achieved through editing.”

Michel Chion3

UPDATED ON 17.01.2024
IMDB: tt0098327