Expressing Suppression: Body Language, Information Distribution and the Frustrated Quest for Fictional Truth in Haneke's Caché

PEER REVIEWED. In Michael Haneke’s Caché body language emerges as the only criterion of fictional truth. The main character, Georges, is again and again subjected to scrutinizing gazes as he tries to find out who is harassing his family. He thinks he has good reason to accuse certain people, but both their and his own body language suggest something quite different.


Bacon, Henry (2014): Expressing Suppression: Body Language, Information Distribution and the Frustrated Quest for Fictional Truth in Haneke’s Caché. Kosmorama #258 (

The way we mentally construct characters as we are cued by filmic narration, draws on the various ways by which we make sense of our fellowmen, as well as on our understanding of how narratives can be used to model human behaviour. We are suspended between observing the characters as quasi-real on the one hand, plot functions on the other, the balance shifting according to various factors such as cultural context, mode, genre and of course the distinctive features of a given film. In a farce we recognize certain typical human situations or caricatures thereof, the characters tending to behave in some quite predictable, ‘characteristic’ fashion. In mystery films we are led to wonder what the characters really are up to, what their various, possibly conflicting motivations really are. In art-films this task is sometimes further complicated by the more fundamental inscrutability of a character. Together with the other characters, we the spectators might have difficulties in assessing to what degree someone really is being candid and honest. We are left wondering whether he or she is being honest even with himself/herself and might end up suspecting that he/she is denying or suppressing something to the point of genuinely not being aware of it. 


Particularly in films which focus on the complexities of human behaviour we may find that the only way to discover any kind of fictional truth, i.e. the actual state of affairs in the fictional world, is to interpret the body language of the characters. Just as in real life, we expect characters to reveal their true selves through inadvertent facial expressions, gestures and prosodic features of their speech. The difference is that the mental construction of characters takes place in terms of the narrative structure of the film as a whole. Michael Haneke’s Caché (Hidden, 2005) serves as a particularly good example.   


Textual and mental construction of characters

We spontaneously express ourselves with our bodily behaviour and we are tuned to observe it in each other. In everyday encounters we are inclined to formulate impressions of other people on the basis of a very few observed traits – or supposed symptoms thereof.  At the most basic level this takes place in terms of recognizing stereotypes and standard patterns of action. In order to cope with more complex situations we might have to fill in information on the basis of our knowledge of psychology and a variety of social configurations. These include more or less justified and relevant assumptions about the typical behaviour of people on the basis of class, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, age etc. An accomplished actor – much like a cartoonist – can create a ‘character effect’ by expressing only a few traits, as he or she can trust the competent spectator to fill in information in the process of mental construction of characters. The characters are likely to appear to have more depth if we are enticed to make a mental effort to understand them, when they are not merely easily recognizable stock characters. This can be exploited by elliptical narration and restrained acting, as well as by expressing conflicting traits.


The ambiguity that so often characterizes art-films derives from the narration refusing to yield enough information to serve as a firm basis for making hypotheses about the characters.[1] The spectator then has to resort to the same method as when trying to understand why real people sometimes behave in non-obvious ways, or in ways that do not seem to be in accord with their verbal statements: we try to read their body-language so as to discover the truth about them and their aspirations. Erving Goffman describes how people seek to acquire information about an individual entering the presence of others: “If unacquainted with the individual, observers can glean clues from his conduct and appearance which allow them to apply their previous experience with individuals roughly similar to the one before them or, more important, to apply untested stereotypes to him” (1987: 13). But a person aware that he or she is being thus assessed is more than likely to adopt a certain “social face”, thus “set[ting] the stage for a kind of information game – a potentially infinite cycle of concealment, discovery, false revelation, and rediscovery” (1987: 20).


The mental construction of characters when we view a film follows closely this pattern, but it is also guided by the way acting is shaped by cinematic means and the general organization of the narration. A crucial aspect of narration and the key reason for our interest in it is the way it can be used to model human action within a given social framework.  At the most fundamental level this works out through the way scenes and sequences shape narration into significant chunks of action – including the question of what is not overtly narrated and has to be inferred by the spectator. Within this framework the intentional behaviour of the characters in the social context depicted is understandable on the basis of our knowledge of the social world as well as of general narrative and more specifically cinematic conventions. Above all, the characters’ orientation into their social world is made meaningful on the basis of our understanding of the meaning of certain forms of human behaviour on the one hand, and our ability to appreciate suggestive mimesis on the other: what we see in a fiction film is not merely imitation of real life but a way of modelling social situations and human experience in a way that suggests something about human affairs, social relationships, a historical situation or some ideological or ethical issue. We spontaneously relate our real life experience of each other’s behaviour to this framework. The same applies to the question of the degree of codedness in each case. 


Body language as signs and symptoms

Facial expressions, gestures and prosodic features of speech may range from signs to symptoms. As signs they may be deliberately used to complement or to give emphasis to what is spoken, to draw attention, to express attitudes and to manage social roles and situations. But they may also function symptomatically, thus revealing to a perceptive observer what a person happens to have in mind, his or her mental and physical state, deeply felt attitudes or social background. A person may also try to use them in a sign-like fashion in order to create a certain impression on other people - say, attempting to establish a sense of authority, yet fail in this because his or her involuntary bodily behaviour emits conflicting messages. Both as signs and symptoms gestures, facial expressions and prosodic features tend to evoke spontaneous reactions and function highly interactively. Crucially, they can function in parallel, in a polarizing fashion or in counterpoint in respect of verbal expression. Observing such similarities or discrepancies is a crucial component of what could be called body-language literacy.


Also in filmic narration facial expressions, gestures and prosodic feature function both as signs and symptoms, but only as moderated by the four categories of motivations: the spectator may see a given element in a film as being justified by either realistic, compositional, transtextual or artistic motivation (Bordwell 1985: 36). Expressions or gestures may be realistically motivated in that we recognize them as being analogous with the way people express themselves in the real world. But such verisimilitude is always calibrated by the way the film is organized into a more or less coherent narrative whole, as well as by various narrative and cinematic conventions and expressive aspirations.[2] Perhaps most importantly, gestures and expressions tend to be more heavily emphasized than in real life and thus will actually have to be modified for realistic effect. Another crucial distinction should be made between what is seen only by the audience and what is also seen by some other characters. A standard assumption exploited in both stage and film acting is that when a person is not observed by the other characters, he or she is likely to reveal his or her true self.[3] Thus, a facial expression which we spectators see but the other characters do not, appears to be the most reliable evidence we can expect to get of the true nature of the character. On the other hand, a person being under a scrutinizing gaze may also find it difficult to conceal his or her true self and innermost attitudes. These effects are managed by means of stylistic features such as mise-en-scéne, framing, editing and of course acting.


Ralph Exline and B.J. Fehr have explored the assessment of gazes in real life situations. They suggest that in our exploration of non-verbal behaviour we should “examine differences that characterize one-sided looks, face gazes, mutual looks, eye contact, gaze avoidance, and gaze omission.” A key feature of gazes is the duration, categorized in every day parlance in terms such as glance, look, gaze, leer, and stare. One particularly important type from the point of view of present concerns is the notion of total gaze, “the extent to which a person looks another in the face, regardless of what the other does.” Furthermore, in examining the range of human interaction enabled by sight, “we may analyze the frequency, duration, proportion, mean, and standard deviation of total gaze.” Some of the alternatives are mutual gaze, one-way gaze by one person or the other, as well as mutual look away (1992: 113-114).


The typology and examination of the nature of gazes proposed by Exline and Fehr are extremely important also for the analysis of acting. But as was pointed out above, in an artistic medium, such features of human behaviour are calibrated so as to make them serve expressive purposes. Patrice Pavis writes in his Analyzing Performance – Theatre, Dance, and Film:  


The emotional expressivity of human beings encapsulates the range of behavioral traits through which emotion is revealed (smiles, tears, facial expressions, attitudes, postures, etc.). In theatre, it is transposed into a series of standardized and codified emotions that represent identifiable behaviors that, in turn, generate psychological and dramatic situations that constitute the framework of the performance. In theatre, emotions are always manifested by means of a rhetoric of the body and gestures in which emotional expression is systematized, or even codified. (2003: 56)   


Both on the stage and on the screen characters simulate both the sign-like and symptomatic features of bodily behaviour familiar from real life. In productions that seek to create the effect of realism clothing, make-up, props and nuances of acting are employed to create a more or less precise impression of the innate and acquired qualities of a character as well as his or her social standing – what the French sociologists Pierre Bourdieu has called habitus (1990: 53) the manifestation of certain social types through appearance and abode, habits and tastes, attitudes and aspirations. Theatre and film may differ slightly in relation to this crucial issue: theatrical action tends to be more stylized in that acting and staging are used to suggest rather than act out bodily behaviour in a way that might be taken as naturalistic. On the other hand, a variety of cinematic devices can be effectively used to shape an actor’s performance. Their calibration in terms of the four categories of motivations is likely to differ due to the by far greater ability of films to represent characters in a verisimilar physical environment as if being surreptitiously observed – as opposed to the inerasable fact of the actors and spectator actually being present in the same physical space, however compelling the drama.[4] Nevertheless, on some level we are aware of the characters as narrative constructions with a certain (even if ambiguous) function in the film as a whole. And this is the foundation also of the function of glances or gazes as expressive means in the cinema. The classical film style is to a great extent built on gazes. As Edward Branigan points out, a glance not only “bristles with implications about space, time, and causality,” it “may also be linked directly to a character’s intention or to forthcoming act by the character or to a reaction (when the character is acted upon).” Most importantly in view of the present concerns, “a character’s glance is a measure of the acquisition of knowledge by the character and spectator”. (1992: 53) 


Haneke’s Caché serves exceedingly well to explore the ways gazes and glances function narratively leading the spectator to try to asses together with the various characters what certain other characters are really up to. The question of being watched is actually thematized in this film, and it gradually develops into a treatise of the existential anxiety of being helplessly under someone’s gaze. 


‘Honesty’ and ‘suppression’ effects in Caché

At the very beginning of Caché Georges and Anne Laurent (Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche), an educated well-off middle class couple, are watching a videocassette they have just found on their doormat. The video shows their house in a single long shot of an hour’s duration taken from the street outside – named ironically Rue Des Iris. Soon drawings follow, depicting bleeding bodies in a child-like fashion. What is the purpose of all this? It is as if, to use a term launched by Goffman (1987: 45), the Laurents – and we the spectators together with them – were not provided with sufficient information so as to determine what kind of keying is in operation: what is the exact nature of this activity, to which Georges at one point angrily refers to as “play”. At first we might think that the film will be about the quest to find the answer. Georges is determined to discover what is behind this strange form of harassment, but quite soon he appears to be inhibited by the very things he ostensibly seeks to discover. Gradually we begin to suspect that for some hidden reason this obvious basic question cannot be unequivocally answered. This fundamental ambiguity is built into the very narrative structure of the film. 


The film begins with the opening credits seen against the background of a single static shot. After the credits the shot continues and eventually turns out to be the video Georges and Anna are watching. While we, the spectators, still see only the video, we hear them discuss in amazement why someone has bothered to make it. Georges is then seen stepping outside and wonder why he has not noticed the camera which has recorded him leaving the house and walk past the point where the camera must have been. As the film proceeds, the diegetic status of the first shot of a new scene is not always clear at first: it may be the diegetic world ‘as if seen by an invisible (or some such) observer,’ but it may also turn out to be a video being watched by someone. At one point what we see is not only cued in retrospect to be yet another video of their house which Anna shows Georges, it is also accompanied by what we may (if only after repeated viewings) assume to be Georges’ memory flashback of an Arab boy. Much later we may further infer that possibly the flashback has been triggered by the drawing into which this new video has been wrapped, depicting a head with blood pouring out from its mouth. Much later on a literature discussion show on television which Georges hosts turns out to be yet another video which is in the process of being edited, as if to remind us that everything we see has been edited in order to produce certain effects.  


There are emphatically elliptical transitions between the two basic kinds of materials, such as when Georges puts on a video showing a car arriving at his boyhood home. There is a cut to George, who all of a sudden turns out to be on a visit to his old mother, almost as if transported there by the video – which in a character psychological sense is what has happened. He asks about Majid, a boy of Algerian origin, who was adopted by the family when Georges was still a boy. Georges explains that he has seen a dream of Majid – thus giving in retrospect an explanation to a short sequence which until this point has not connected with anything else except the memory flashback seen a bit earlier. These and other similar instances suggest that the videos are in some way symptomatic of Georges’ subjectivity in an even deeper sense than merely referring to his past or present life. The impression is soon strengthened by a sequence which shockingly begins with the head of a rooster being chopped off by an Arab boy who then moves menacingly with his axe towards an ethnically French looking boy – this turns out to be Georges’ nightmare, presumably launched by a drawing of a rooster with a slit throat.  


As spectators we have to be content with only ambiguous cues as to what all this is about. In the last instance it is not even clear whether the videos and drawings actually do have an unambiguous relationship with the diegetic world. As we do not get a satisfactory explanation of their origin, they, as well as the drawings, begin to appear like symptoms of Georges’ suppressed bad conscience which penetrates into his everyday being as if by directing a relentless existential gaze on him. The drawings seemingly relate to his past, to something which until now he has succeeded in suppressing, perhaps to the point of entirely forgetting. Something unpleasant has happened in the past between Georges and Majid. The drawings make the past resurface in Georges mind jeopardizing what Goffman has called a person’s front, “that part of the individual’s performance which regularly functions in a general and fixed fashion to define the situation for those who observe the performance.” (1987: 32) As a television personality hosting discussions on literature Georges is a professional in maintaining a front. But in coping with this totally unexpected and disturbing situation, he suddenly appears amateurishly unable to convincingly maintain his front even as he faces his editor-in-chief, friends or wife. Or rather, as in the scene in which he tells Anna he thinks he knows who is behind the videos and the pictures but refuses to tell who, he appears like a little boy caught in mischief, unable to meet her eyes and keep up pretence under her direct questioning gaze. Something is happening to him that inhibits him from meeting such gazes on equal terms. As he insists on focusing on what ostensibly is a weird external threat, his body language constantly suggests that he himself is hiding something, as if the fracturing of some hidden internal structure would be making his front crumble.  

Framegrab from Caché (Michael Haneke, 2005). 

Yet another video leads Georges to where Majid (Maurice Bénichou) now lives. They have not met for decades, and when we see them reencounter, Georges seems only gradually to recognize Majid. Majid, however, recognizes him as – he explains – he has happened to see Georges on television. As an information game the situation that emerges is highly asymmetrical and puts also the spectator into a challenging position. At first our knowledge and knowledge interest are aligned with that of Georges: who is this guy in the apartment and how does he connect with the strange videos and drawings? After Georges recognizes Majid, he knows much more than we do about his distant past, but now our interest lies in assessing whether Georges is right in vehemently accusing Majid. At this stage our only criteria of fictional truth is Majid’s body language. It suggests strongly that he has nothing to conceal. It certainly helps that he does not appear in the least bit like the stereotypical ‘film Arab’ suggesting threatening otherness. His appearance and his home indicate that he is relatively poor and that his social standing is fairly low, but his conduct does not suggest any kind of social antagonism. He only appears genuinely perplexed by Georges’ accusations. There are no surreptitious expressions which we would see but Georges wouldn’t, revealing to us that Majid has something to hide. Stylistic elements reinforce the impressions of a face to face encounter and thus of Majid’s candidness. Throughout their encounter Georges is aggressive and unsympathetic while Majid remains perfectly calm and as kind and polite as one could possibly be expected to be when someone from the past suddenly charges into one’s home and starts making strange accusations. This would be the opportunity for Georges to apply the technique of total gaze, to try and force Majid to reveal what he is really up to by relentlessly observing his bodily behaviour. At first Georges’ body language contains elements both of symptomatic expressions of anger and attempts to deliberately bully Majid. But once his aggressive approach does not yield any satisfactory results, Georges appears increasingly confused. Recognizing Majid at first gives him the explanation he craves for, but on some level he seems to gradually acknowledge that Majid’s behaviour bespeaks innocence.  

Framegrab from Caché (Michael Haneke, 2005).

Most strangely, after leaving Majid Georges tells Anna that there presumably was no one in the apartment as the door remained closed. But soon enough we again see him with Majid in the apartment, this time from a different angle, seen from behind Georges. This turns out to be another one-shot video sent to Anna, which she is now showing to Georges to make the point that he has been caught lying. He reluctantly tells her – under the scrutiny of yet another direct gaze – that Majid’s parents perished in the infamous 1961 massacre in Paris and that Georges’ parents then adopted the boy. [5] He admits that because of jealousy he caused Majid to be thrown out from the family but claims that he does not remember how things happened. He admits that it was stupid of him to threaten Majid but that he is still convinced that Majid must be responsible for the videos. Anna points out what is likely to be apparent also for the spectator: Majid looks genuine surprised by Georges’ accusations. Even more tellingly, Georges’ lying to Anna about not meeting anyone at the apartment can only be explained by assuming that he is confused by Majid not appearing at all guilty. Furthermore, as Anna points out, in the video they and we have just seen, Majid’s bursting into tears after Georges has left appears genuine and not staged for a camera in his apartment. 


As it turns out that the video has also been seen by the editor-in-chief at the television station, Georges explains that he is being pestered by this madman. The editor-in-chief, however, points out that on the video Majid does not appear like that at all – and Georges has to admit that on the video he rather than Majid appears aggressive.


Being oneself under an existential gaze

At times it appears that we are not shown developments which could be crucial for our understanding of Georges’ character. One evening when his teenage son Pierrot does not come back home Georges promptly has Majid and his son arrested. When it turns out that Pierrot has simply stayed the night away from home without telling his parents, we do not see Georges receiving the news about his son having returned home safe and sound nor hearing the reason for him having been missing. But then again, there is no indication that Georges would feel any need to apologize to Majid or that he would feel in any way embarrassed by the situation.


As so often in Haneke’s films, relational aggression emerges from the fundamental inability of the characters to cope with their own negative traits. They grow anxious and aggressive toward both others and themselves. The film that most obviously invites comparison is La pianiste (The Piano Teacher, 2001) in which the main character (Isabelle Huppert) has, because of distorted family relationships, suppressed her desires and become neurotically non-communicative. In many scenes she appears even more inscrutable than Georges. She works as a piano teacher at a Viennese conservatory and this appears to suit her personality frightfully well. Training young people to become musicians of high calibre calls for sternness that at least in this institution comes dangerously close to cruelty. During the entrance examinations the corridors of the Conservatory appear to be full of people at breaking point. Yet, music clearly is very important for these people. At many points we observe them during musical performances, and it is impossible to tell to what degree their refined facial gestures reflect their artistic experience and to what degree they derive from their thoughts related to their personal situations. Beyond the sphere of practicing music the others may be able to relate to each other in a more healthy interactive fashion, but for Erika the discipline needed to reach the heights classical music requires is a means of suppression and even punishment. Beyond this sphere she is virtually unable to relate to people and ends up being self-destructive.


In the most shocking scene in Caché Majid invites Georges to his small apartment and when he has arrived all of a sudden kills himself by cutting his throat – as if fulfilling the prophesy of one of the drawings. Georges walks around the room for a while, unable to react in any way. Next we see him come out of a cinema. When he gets back home he is not even able explain to Anna where he has spent the hours between the suicide and returning home. Only now he tells her of the plot he as a little boy devised to get Majid thrown out of the family. We are partly familiar with this from Georges’ nightmare: he has misled Majid into killing a rooster and then told his parent that Majid did it out of mischief. Apparently the memory of the boy covered in blood has begun to haunt Georges, only to become horribly true in the suicide of the boy as grown adult.  


The scene in which Georges finally reveals to Anna how Majid was excluded from the Laurent family is shot in a very dimly lit room with Georges’ face constantly in darkness or turned away from the camera, but his slumped figure aptly bespeaks total dejection. There is still a tension between the state he seems to be in and his obstinate insistence that Majid is responsible for the videos and that the suicide was his sick way of getting back at him decades later – although now he mentions the idea as if nervously amused by the absurdity of this hypothesis. Nevertheless, it remains his last line of defence as Majid’s son (Walid Afkir) comes to see him at the television studio. He vehemently and scornfully denies responsibility, first for the suicide, then for the way Majid’s life had turned out. He also accuses the son of terrorizing his family with the videos. When the son tells Georges he has nothing to do with the videos we do not see his face, but Georges does, and it is as if he were unable to ignore the impression that the young man is honest, however strongly that perception is in conflict with his interpretation of the keying of what has been going on.  

​​​​​​Framegrab from Caché (Michael Haneke, 2005).

Georges accuses Majid and his son of being insane, but it is he who appears out of balance while the son appears perfectly composed. In Goffman’s terms, he is able to maintain face, to present an image of himself “that is internally consistent, that is supported by judgments and evidence conveyed by other participants judgments and evidence conveyed through impersonal agencies in the situation” (1982: 6-7). Just like his father earlier on, he does not “give himself off” by unintentional bodily expression. In the encounter with Georges in the men’s room he is perfectly calm, almost stationary. Georges, in turn, appears miserably out of face, unable to project a line of behaviour that would appear socially appropriate and support the front he tries to project. We are likely to share the higher moral ground of the son, together with the inquisitive quality of his direct gaze on the angrily twitching Georges. His fault is not so much the wrongdoing committed as a little boy, as it is his inability to be honest with himself and with other people in adult life. He sees himself as a victim but nevertheless tries to hide things from Anna, even things that on the surface do not even appear significantly compromising. 


George’s behaviour at certain points is quite inscrutable, not to say enigmatic. Also in assessing him, ultimately the only measure of fictional truth is our assessment of his bodily behaviour. His nervous, even agonized appearance, his pointless lies and non-communicative behaviour – trying to avoid explaining himself to Anna, insisting on threatening Majid, not reporting Majid’s suicide, trying obstinately to refuse any contact with Majid’s son – suggests he is the one who has something to hide. This is particularly apparent in the two instances in which he responds furtively to Anna’s direct gazes, to which the spectator is aligned with both in terms of physical point-of-view and narrative interest: like Anna, we are perplexed by Georges’ behaviour and want to know what is behind it.  


Many potentially interesting narrative issues are left unexplained. Even at the very end of the film it is not clear what exactly has happened. The only obvious realistically motivated explanation to which Georges clings – that Majid or his son is responsible for the videos – has been undermined by the body language of Majid and his son – as well as that of Georges himself. The fictional truth – if there is any such thing in this film – always appears to be a just a little bit too far away to be properly perceived and reliably interpreted. In the very last shot we can just about notice Pierrot meeting Majid’s son. It is easily missed even on repeated viewings as there is much else going on in this image, some of it closer to the foreground. Some spectators have thought that this indicates that the boys together have made and sent the videos and drawings. But there is nothing in the film to support that hypothesis. Majid could just as well be explaining who he is and how their lives connect. And above all, once again the camera is quite far away, on the other side of the street, similarly distanced as the initial video of the Laurent house, the shot of Georges coming out from the cinema after having witnessed Majid’s suicide,[6] the shot in which we see for the last time Georges returning home which is taken from exactly the same camera position as the opening shot, or the last but one shot of Georges’ family home as Majid as a little boy is seen being caught and taken away from the Laurent’s farm house. It is almost as if Georges’ sense of guilt had generated these gazes on his world, sometimes delivered to him in the form of VHS cassettes. This does not make sense in terms of a coherent diegetic world, but it makes perfect sense in terms of modelling some of the underlying, suppressed causes which might distort human behaviour.   


What Robert T. Self writes in connection with Robert Altman’s Nashville (US, 1975) applies quite well to Caché: “Performance, then, is developed not to ultimately convey some sense of an ‘individual’ or ‘identity’ but to portray personality as a subjectivity proscribed by contradictory forces. Thus, acting in modernist discourse works inevitably in the service of the depiction of splintered, unstable and insecure identity” (2004: 127). In Caché this insecurity is revealed above all in the bodily behaviour of  Georges under the inquisitive gaze of his fellow characters as well as the existential gaze of  a camera, the diegetic status of which is left obscure and through which something hidden is just about to be revealed … but not quite.  




1. Concerning the notion of hypothesis making as a basic spectatorial activity while watching a film, see Bordwell 1985, p. 31ff.

2. I have slightly redefined the notion of artistic motivation in my article “Blendings of Real, fictional, and other imaginary people.” Projections, vol. 3, issue 1, summer 2009.

3. As James Naremore puts it: “... fundamental trope of realist film acting; the player assumes a representational stance, her gaze turned slightly away from the lens, and then makes at least two different faces, both clearly visible to the audience, one coded as ‘suppressed,’ the other as ‘ostensive’” (1988, 80).

4. Christian Metz, the great theorist of cinematic voyeurism, claimed that cinema is by nature more voyeuristic than theatre because in the latter the spectator himself is much more visible, whereas in the cinema “the mechanism of satisfaction relies on my awareness that the object I am watching is unaware of being watched” (Psychoanalysis and Cinema, p. 95–96). He also emphasized that the cinematic sign is by nature imaginary – something appears to be in front of us that we know is not there – and because of this cinema is more able to create an impression of a fictional world than theatre is, the balance being more on the side of the represented than the act of representation (p. 66-67).

5. Georges’ attitude may be taken as a metaphor for the way the massacre of about 120 Arab protestors by the French police in September-October 1961 has been all but erased from French history. Haneke stated in an interview: “I made use of this incident because it fits in a horrible way. You could find a similar story in any country, even though it took place at a different time. There’s always a collective story that can be connected to a personal story, and that’s how I want the film to be understood”,  “Caché von Michael Haneke – Interview”.

6. Ironically, they are showing films such Two BrothersMy Mother and Bad Education.



Bacon, Henry (2009). “Blendings of Real, fictional, and other imaginary people.” Projections, vol 3, issue 1.

Bordwell, David (1985), 1988. Narration in the Fiction Film. Routledge, London.

Bourdieu, Pierre (1990). The Logic of Practice. Translated by Richard Nice. Stanford, Stanford University Press.

Branigan, Edward (1992). Narrative Comprehension and Film. London and New York, Routledge.

Exline, Ralph V. and Fehr, B.J. (1982) “The assessment of gaze and mutual gaze.” In Scherer, Klaus R. & Ekman, Paul (eds.) (1982). Handbook of methods in nonverbal behaviour research. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp. 91–135.

Goffman, Erving (1959) 1987. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Harmondsworth, Penguin Books.

Goffman, Erving (1967) 1982. Interactional ritual – Essays on Face-to-Face behaviour. New York, Pantheon Books.

Metz, Christian 1985 (1982). Psychoanalysis and the Cinema. Translated by Celia Britton, Annwyl Williams, Ben Brewster and Alfred Guzzetti. London, Macmillan.

Naremore , James (1988). Acting in the cinema. London : University of California Press.  

Pavis, Patrice (2003) 2006. Analyzing Performance – Theatre, Dance, and Film. Translated by David Williams. Ann Arbor, The University of Michigan Press.

Self, Robert T. (2004). “Resisting Reality – Acting by Design in Robert Altman’s Nashville”. In Baron, Cynthia, Carson, Dinae & Tomasulo, Frank P (eds.) More than a Method – Trends and Traditions in Contemporary Film Performance. Detroit, Wayne State University Press.


Kildeangivelse: Bacon, Henry (2014): Expressing Suppression: Body Language, Information Distribution and the Frustrated Quest for Fictional Truth in Haneke’s Caché. Kosmorama #258 (


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