HART 1260 – Caché (Hidden)
November 3, 2014
Mise en Scene
(First Scene) Caché (Hidden) is a film directed by Michael Haneke that follows a middle-aged couple, Georges and Anne Laurent, and their son, Pierrot, as they are being terrorized by surveillance videos of their home and crudely drawn pictures of horrific images such as a child spitting up blood and a chicken that had its head cut off. What Haneke does so well in this film is completely alienate the audience from the characters and the events unfolding on screen. The director is able to do this through editing and use of specific and strategic camera shots that call for distancing those who join in this dramatic journey. The film opens with a stationary extreme long shot of a congested book-line neighborhood in France. The camera stays absolutely still with zero movements in frame as the credits type onto the screen in plain white font. As the credits fade, the film is already almost 2 minutes in and there has yet to have been any movement on the scene in view or a sound at all. At (1:52) in the film, we see a woman in the distance exit the town house and exit the stationary picture to the left of the shot. Back to simply silence and stillness, until about 20 seconds pass and a young man riding a bicycle enters from the left side of the screen and continues down the street the camera is shooting from. The man is only shown in the bottom third of the screen, keeping a large majority of the mise en scene focused on the town house. As the man exits, the first sounds of the film can be heard. A man, off screen, says, “Well?” and an off-screen dialogue ensues between the man and a woman, all while the same still shot continues to show on screen. Georges and Anne discuss an item that was left in a plastic bag on the front porch.
At just before 3 minutes into the film, the camera finally cuts to a shot across the street from the town house entrance, and a man (presumably the one heard in the earlier dialogue) appears from the house and walks across the street in an investigative manner. The camera sits stationary while panning in a long shot to follow the man’s movement across the street. As the man re-enters the house, the scene cuts back to the original extreme long shot of the neighborhood. A few seconds pass following the couple discussing an eerie sequence and white blurry lines appear on the still shot. The screen now appears as if the camera is fixed on a different screen playing a tape of the events outside the town house from the opening of the film, and in fact it is. The shot now shows the tape fast forwarding through the events that occurred after Anne left right up until we see Georges leave the house and walk down the alley to go to work. The tape then rewinds, and shows Georges walking directly passing the camera and what looks like him looking in the near area of what is now known to be a surveillance camera. The original extreme long shot down the street to the Laurent town house is shown a few more times in the course of the story as more and more tapes are being given to the Laurent’s. Haneke is able to distance the audience from the characters right away by putting the audience away in a specific viewing space. This tone of alienation continues throughout the entire film, and specifically in another instance in the tail end of the film when we see what can be assumed to be Georges’ flashback of when Majid was taken to the orphanage. In one of the last scenes of the film, the camera opens with another extreme long shot from a stationary position of a large country home. In between the camera position and the home are a dozen or so chickens roaming around. The camera seems to be in a shelter of sorts, presumably a barn or shed. A light blue car enters in from the right side of the shot and stops in front of the house. As what we can assume is Majid and Georges parents