Michael Haneke’s Favorite Films

When looking for great movie suggestions, an excellent resource (besides this website and our Facebook page!) can be the eclectic taste of our favorite filmmakers. In the spirit of our Daily Movie Recommendations, Must See Cinema presents this series of articles, chronicling the “Top Favorite” lists of many of our beloved directors and cinematographers – artists who have give cinephiles like us lifetimes of enjoyment, people who will live forever through their work and contribution to this art! Today’s list will include some of the favorite films of the Austrian auteur Michael Haneke.

Michael Haneke is one of the most talented and praised directors working today. He is one of only 7 directors to have won multiple (two) Palme D’Or prizes at the Cannes Film Festival (for his films The White Ribbon in 2009 and Amour in 2012). Amour also won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in the same year. His films often offer a stark worldview, a distinct atmosphere and precise direction and pace. The”emotional glaciation” trilogy of his first three films gave a strong social commentary on the alienation of individuals in modern Western society.

Described as “provocative”, “disturbing” and “daring”, Haneke’s filmography is multi-layered, intellectually stimulating, thought-provoking and unique.

In 2002, British magazine Sight & Sound conducted a “Director’s Top 10” poll, asking various accomplished filmmakers to give their opinion on their Top 10 films. Michael Haneke submitted the following list of films:

1. Au Hasard Balthazar (1966) dir: Robert Bresson

2. “Lancelot of the Lake” (1974, Dir: Robert Bresson)

3. “The Mirror” (1975, Dir: Andrei Tarkovsky)

4. “Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom” (1975, Dir: Pier Paolo Pasolini)

5. “The Exterminating Angel” (1962, Dir: Luis Bunuel)

6. “The Gold Rush” (1925, Dir: Charlie Chaplin)

7. “Psycho” (1960, Dir: Alfred Hitchcock)

8. “A Woman Under the Influence” (1974, Dir: John Cassavetes)

9. “Germany Year Zero” (1948, Dir: Roberto Rossellini)

10. “L’eclisse” (1962, Dir: Michelangelo Antonioni)

The influence of all of these great films and directors is clearly evident in Haneke’s cinema. Bresson’s minimalistic approach to storytelling can be seen as an influence to works like 71 Fragments and Code Unknown. The first film on the list, Au Hasard Balthazar – a story of a donkey’s life and death – has many themes which were further dealt with in Haneke’s filmography. The brutality and social commentary in Pasolini’s Salo, the uncomfortable atmosphere and unique character study in Cassavetes’ A Woman Under the Influence, the realistic approach in Germany Year Zero and the unique concoction of comedy and character study in Chaplin’s The Gold Rush, as well as the long, uninterrupted takes and unconventional structure in Tarkovsky’s The Mirror, are all building blocks which formed Michael Haneke as one of the greatest directors and auteurs in cinema.