Code Unknown


Especially if you consider the possibility that Caché’s final shot could be another of the film’s occult surveillances, what’s at work in Michael Haneke’s movie is a distinctive varietal of self-reflexive cinema—the inscrutable p.o.v., the renegade “I.” Far afield from both trad cinema’s relaxing omnipotence and Godardian editorialization, Caché takes as its ultimate subject the “who” of filmmaking: Whose eye is this? The precedents are few. The effectively disheveling fake-doc tradition running from Peter Watkins and David Holzman’s Diary (1967) to The Blair Witch Project (1999) may upset the comfort of cinematic syntax, but we know who’s filming. Allen Funt’s Candid Camera, Jackass, and Ashton Kutcher’s Punk’d all exploited the humiliation of being captured by what’s “hidden,” but again, the points of view are no mystery. The video invasion of Lost Highway (1997) never invaded or subverted the film proper. Closer to the bone, Samuel Beckett’s Film (1965) and Yoko Ono’s Rape (1969) consisted completely of hostile, unattributed perspectives chasing down their subjects. Perhaps Ringu (1998) and its progeny have come closest—not the whole features, but the death-dealing rogue video transmission itself. It’s not, narratively, the product of personal espionage, but it is imagery whose provenance is unknowable, its author lost between experience and visual document.