Nikola Vucinic

Abstract

This paper is a case study of Michael Haneke’s 2005 film Hidden. Our focus is on the use of whodunit genre conventions, and how the deconstruction of genre is used to structure the narrative and allow the political and social context of the main protagonist’s guilt to surface. Film forms around the lack of guilt represented through the main character’s refusal to acknowledge responsibility, and face his past. I aim to explore how circumventing genre conventions is used to structure the narrative and form a particular point of view. I will analyze the implications of this in the context of the whole narrative, but focusing on three key sequences within the film, as part of the mystery genre structure. The opening sequence, and the way it positions the spectator and launches the whodunit narrative. The sequence leading up to Majid’s suicide, as a genre narrative “false trail”, in setting up the brutal realism of Majid’s suicide. And the ending, as a third sequence, analyzing betrayed expectations of the reveal, and the lack of narrative answer to the driving question of the film. Haneke structures Hidden as a mystery/who done it film, with the aim of betraying the expectations of the audience, by not clearly reviling the answer to the “who has done it” question. Instead, he uses the lack of answer as a question in itself, and in doing so frames the underlining context, allowing the theme to be understood and questioned in a wider social level of guilt and culpability of indifferent viewing.

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