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Code Unknown


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Product Details

  • Actors: Juliette Binoche, Thierry Neuvic, Josef Bierbichler, Alexandre Hamidi, Maimouna Hélène Diarra
  • Directors: Michael Haneke
  • Writers: Michael Haneke
  • Producers: Alain Sarde, Christoph Holch, Marin Karmitz, Michael Weber, Thilo Kleine
  • Format: Color, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Arabic, English, French, German, Romanian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: Mongrel Media
  • Release Date: Aug. 27 2002
  • Run Time: 118 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000068MAL
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #61,385 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Product Description

On a bustling Paris streetcorner, four separate lives intersect, setting into motion a stunning film by acclaimed filmmaker Michael Haneke (The Piano Teacher, Funny Games), which has been called "the most intellectually stimulating and emotionally provocative piece of European cinema of recent times." Carefully interweaving the stories of Anne, a promising actress (Juliette Binoche), her photojournalist boyfriend Georges (Thierry Neuvic), a young teacher of African descent (Ona Lu Yenke) and a Romanian illegal immigrant (Luminita Gheorghiu), Haneke crafts a compelling portrait of life in a fractured, lonely world. As these divergent stories gradually unfold, the seemingly unrelated lives prove to have very much in common, as they struggle for love and acceptance in society of locked doors and cold stares.

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3.3 out of 5 stars
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By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on May 24 2004
Format: DVD
Michael Haneke is either mad or a genius. That's the feeling that comes after watching "Code Unknown," a strangely compelling -- and very unconventionally-shot -- movie about people who lack a place to live in peace. The performances are realistic, the direction strangely minimalist -- and the feel is confusing and vivid.
The movie follows the lives of many people living in France -- an immigrant taxi driver who returns to his homeland. A Romanian woman who faces deportation. A young boy fleeing life on a farm. An Arab heckles people on a subway. A young black man who can't understand why people are so disrespectful to a woman on the street. And a young actress who simply seems to be struggling with her boyfriend. These people bump into one another, and their lives brush for brief instants that change everything.
"Code: Unknown" is not an easy film to get into. Its fragmented story is made up of dozens of little scenes, which are sometimes cut off in mid-sentence. What's more, there are certain scenes (like Binoche and an old lady walking through a cemetary, or a boy riding his bike away from a farm) that may seem dull at first glance.
Certainly Haneke's filmmaking is unique. There is no soundtrack at all; in some scenes, all you can hear are cars and footsteps. Each scene is filmed in one long continuous take, which adds to the ultra-realistic feel of the film -- it's unadorned, lacking in drama, gritty and sometimes a bit tedious, like real life. And Haneke's directorial skill is at its best when communicating how alienated and alone these people are -- for example, Binoche on a stage, speaking wistfully to a nonexistant audience.
The acting ranges from silly to superb.
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Format: DVD
Code Unknown begins with a scene where a a large group of hearing-impaired students are playing charades by acting out emotional behaviors. As the audience observes the scene it becomes clear that the students cannot decode the acted out emotional behavior. The story is in regards to the human inability to understand or read these behavioral cues as they are presented in society and Haneke embodies these cues through a number of "incomplete tales of several journeys". These "incomplete tales" consist of a large number of scenes that begin in the middle and end before the end, which suggests that the ultimate beginning or ending does not really exist since all interactions are linked to the consequences and are deciphered by each individual. Clever directing fuses these scenes together with distinct fade outs that seems to lead haphazardly to a different character's tale, yet within the disorder Haneke creates a neat methodology that presents several intriguing tales. These tales deal with several social and political issues such as racism, love, attitude, poverty, and much more. Code Unknown displays the possibilities of great cinema as Haneke deliberately forces the audience into contemplative action through his creative scene constructions and challenging cinematography. In addition, the cast performs brilliantly, one example is a close-up shot of the character Anne Laurent (Juliette Binoche) as she is preparing for a film role where she is going to die. This shot is modern film history as it personifies fear with cinematic brilliance. In the end, Code Unknown is cinematic art that leaves the audience with an enigmatic riddle of human behavior which is left for the audience to decipher as the story suggests.
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By A Customer on Feb. 23 2004
Format: DVD
From its start, Code Unknown promises to tell "incomplete" stories of French life and more than lives up to its preface. This film is so choppily edited, poorly paced, and confusing that the stories evolve from incomplete to incomprehensible and infuriating. This isn't a movie about characters or plot, so it's moot to describe what little the film has of either. This is a film about mood- the mood of a persisting, even shocking disconnect and sadness in the world. There are plenty of moments of pristine beauty to supply such a mood. For instance, the opening tracking shot is breathless and subtly horrifying, as we watch racism and cruelty transpire with utter naturalism. This scene is the most vivid and evocative in the whole film- and holds a certain precedent that the film can never live up to, though Haneke continually gives us similarly fascinating, unconventionally disturbing images to absorb. For instance, a brilliant fight in a grocery is accentuated by characters angrily shoving food items in a shopping cart to punctuate their rage. I don't quite know what it means but it's fascinating to watch. And Haneke fully captures the luminosity of Juliette Binoche so that every time she appears onscreen, we feel connected. We wait for such scenes- and Binoche's appearance to jumpstart our pulse in between the unengaging filler- much of which doesn't make sense- logically, emotionally, or stylistically. The more I place it within the context of Michael Haneke's work (Funny Games and The Piano Teacher; the latter's depiction of bizarre psychosexuality seems positively mainstream compared to this) the more I believe the incomprehensibility is intentional. And surely, this movie deserves repeated viewings. Its initial effect, though maddening to a large degree, is undeniably intriguing.
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