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Seventh Continent (1989)

Birgit Doll , Dieter Berner , Michael Haneke  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Seventh Continent + 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance + The Piano Teacher (Unrated Edition)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Birgit Doll, Dieter Berner, Leni Tanzer, Udo Samel, Silvia Fenz
  • Directors: Michael Haneke
  • Writers: Michael Haneke, Johanna Teicht
  • Producers: Veit Heiduschka
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: German (Unknown)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Kino Video
  • DVD Release Date: May 16, 2006
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000EHQU3A
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #189,394 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Seventh Continent" on IMDb

Special Features

  • New video interview with director Michael Haneke

Editorial Reviews

Beautifully controlled and liberatingly intelligent, (Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune), The Seventh Continent is the first theatrical film written and directed by German-born auteur Michael Haneke (The Piano Teacher, Cache). "A shocking and potent statement about out times" (Jonathan Rosenbaum, 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 materialized 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, 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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OMINOUS, SUPERB STUDY OF SUBURBIA March 9, 2004
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
Excellent film. Extremely unorthodox. Be warned, this film doesn't really follow a standard narrative (it seems like most of what happens happens off-screen).
This is a film about a family that literally implodes, however there are no big verbal exchanges or explosions, no big speeches about "the meaning of it all". The director tells the story primarily with images and people placed in the frame as secondary characters to inanimate objects.
Essentially, a story about a family (mother, father, daughter) that are emotionally devastated by the 20th century and the environment of the technology age.
Someone else was correct in describing this film as similar to Todd Haynes "Safe". Both films are excellent, although Safe is more creepy-crawly ambiguous, The Seventh Continent is more devastating, darker - the kind of film that rattles your teeth days after when thinking about it.
there are scenes in this film that literally make you want to jump out of your skin: the sight of a pair of hands tearing up money and flushing it down the toilet (we never see the person's face). The scene goes on and on and you keep thinking "when is the director going to cut away from this???" but he keeps showing it. And then you realize there is something awesomely disturbing about what you are seeing: its so taboo in this day and age to see money being systematically, ritualistically destroyed. And to see it go on and on provokes a real response.
There are many moments like this.
That would be GREAT if this were released on DVD, along with the other two films in Haneke's "glaciation" trilogy: "Benny Video" and "71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance". These are nearly impossible to find!!! PLease release them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A serious Case of Weldschmerz June 28, 2010
In French it would be La Nausee, in the USA it is The Blues. A young middle class Austrian family slowly falls apart before our eyes. It begins with their young daughter feigning blindness. The malaise slowly spreads to the mother and father. It is a seemingly loving, attractive family, but there is no joy in their lives, only meaningless ritual.
The title refers to Australia, where they plan to escape, but they never make it.
The Seventh Continent is Michael Haneke's first film, released in 1989, and based on a news story that he read. In this film he sets the pattern for many of his future films. He presents images, but does not try to explain the characters' motivation. Thus, he insists that the viewer find his own reasons for the characters' actions. There is no "right answer", since every viewer will be supplying his own motivations and in a sense creating his own film.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to the world of Haneke... June 21, 2010
To show that I am not completely bias and that I will not just hand continual five-star praise to Michael Haneke's work, I present to you my review of `Der Siebente Kontinent'. This isn't to say that I don't think this is a strong film, for it certainly is, but the flaws within this film are more readily noticeable.

This is Haneke's first feature film and thus his most amateur.

`Der Siebente Kontinent' is a film that, like all of Haneke's work, will haunt you. Using his cautious approach to weave a tale of eventual brutish barbarianism, Haneke creates a cold and isolated world that the audience feels almost instantly repulsed by. We are guarded as we sit down to soak in all that Haneke presents, and as we indulge our senses we see that there is much within this world to be afraid of. Being the first film in Haneke's `Glaciation Trilogy', `Der Siebente Kontinent' definitely creates an air of emotional apathy.

The film is a true account of a young suburban family who find that they have become emotionally void thanks to their thankless existence. They go through their routines with a sterile quality that leaves them rather unfulfilled. With nothing to differentiate them from anyone else (thus Haneke's decision to film them solely from the neck down for the first few minutes of the film), they have become another statistic; nothing more, nothing less. Watching this family go through their daily routine can become predictable and boring, but that is the entire intent of the film. Haneke films this in a way that brings the audience right into their home and into their life and gives them exactly what is needed to place them in the right mind frame.

If their lives were interesting then the ending wouldn't make much sense.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Michael Haneke's rare skill April 2, 2010
What to make of Michael Haneke, the director whose unsettling films will disturb for weeks on end (Cache (Hidden), Time of the Wolf)? Born and raised in Germany (he most certainly is not American), since 1989 he's carved an extraordinary career as one of the most challenging artists of the modern era. His films make the work of Stanley Kubrick seem like a stroll through Pollyanna (Vault Disney Collection). But Kubrick, one of the great directors in history (Stanley Kubrick: Warner Home Video Directors Series (2001 A Space Odyssey / A Clockwork Orange / Eyes Wide Shut unrated / Full Metal Jacket / The Shining / A Life in Pictures)), is the filmmaker I am most reminded of when viewing Haneke (and to a lessor extent Ingmar Bergman - The Ingmar Bergman Trilogy: The Criterion Collection (Through a Glass Darkly / Winter Light / The Silence)). I'm sure there are other comparisons, Italian neorealists and French auteurs.

Haneke's debut was this stark and haunting 1989 work "The Seventh Continent." It has a film student quality (perhaps a way of saying it's not commercial?), but with an undeniable air of skill. The photography is superb, brightly lit with the striking colors of an assured visionary. Each shot appears scientifically realized, with universal detail of the modern world instantly identifiable.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Be Prepared
As a viewer you'll have to have some determination to get thru the slow and frustrating first half. It's not without purpose: It's expertly shot, cropped and styled - and... Read more
Published 3 months ago by michael moodgroove
4.0 out of 5 stars They're trying to wash the car, but what's dirty is on the inside...
How do you review a film like "The Seventh Continent" without sounding pretentious? I could hint at a deeper understanding that naysayers can't comprehend, or I could praise its... Read more
Published on July 27, 2010 by Subauthor
3.0 out of 5 stars Surrealistic Madness
A tragedy of physically becoming blind spread from a girl to parents of her, transforming into a social disaster of family falling apart as nothing joint them further. Read more
Published on July 3, 2010 by Michael Kerjman
5.0 out of 5 stars Whatever...
I think that many people will be able to identify with this film. As always, I made a point of knowing virtually nothing about it before I saw it, and I'd recommend doing the same. Read more
Published on October 10, 2009 by PsyRC
5.0 out of 5 stars The triviality is the antechamber of desperation!
Obsessive tale of the existential despair, signed by the thick brume of triviality that lives beneath the way of living of a modern family. Read more
Published on October 4, 2007 by Hiram Gomez Pardo
5.0 out of 5 stars Anomie
The Seventh Continent is my favorite movie. Michael Haneke is an excellent film maker and this, in my opinion, is his best work. Read more
Published on September 8, 2004 by stu
5.0 out of 5 stars A "must see" for all information age survivors....
I cant tell you anything about this movie and be advised; dont think about learning the story of the movie and dont even think about the meaning of the continent. Read more
Published on April 14, 2001 by "levent1234"
5.0 out of 5 stars a virtually unknown masterpiece
You may know nothing about Austrian director Michael Haneke or you may have seen some of his other strange and challenging films (Code Unknown, The Piano Teacher). Read more
Published on July 10, 2000
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