New on Video: ‘Code Unknown’

Code Unknown

Written and directed by Michael Haneke

France/Germany/Romania, 2000

Michael Haneke’s Code Unknown, the director’s 2000 follow-up to his brilliant 1997 film Funny Games, opens on group of deaf children playing sign-language charades. It’s an oddly provocative opening, in that it instantly leaves one to speculate where such a scene is heading, and yet is curiously soon forgotten as the film proper begins, only to be recalled again at the very end of the movie. While this may appear as an arbitrary insertion of an apparently irrelevant parenthesis, there proves to be more to the inclusion than one could initially gather when the scene is first presented. It would indeed be impossible to understand its full significance until the film concludes, for like these children attempting to guess the phrase or word mimicked by another, Code Unknown is itself about figuring out behavior, trying to deduce and
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