The Seventh Continent (Der Siebente Kontinent) (Directors Suite) (1989)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 2-May-2007

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Interviews-Crew-Interview with Michael Haneke (16:43)
Theatrical Trailer-Caché (2005)
Theatrical Trailer-Le Fils (2002)
Theatrical Trailer-Le Temps du loup (2003)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1989
Running Time 103:54
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Michael Haneke
Studio
Distributor
Wega Film
Madman Entertainment
Starring Dieter Berner
Udo Samel
Leni Tanzer
Silvia Fenz
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Alban Berg


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None German Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

“A director makes only one movie in his life. Then he breaks it into pieces and makes it again”. Jean Renoir

And so began Michael Haneke’s career of portraying bourgeois trauma – his debut film Der Siebente Kontinent and his most recent Caché, could easily be seen as companion films as the director continues to dissect, scrutinise and brutally explore social and personal alienation in modern society.

Haneke’s subjects are Georg Schober (Dieter Berner) and Anna Schober (Birgit Doll), who are the parents of wide-eyed Eva (Leni Tanzer). The family live a comfortable white collar existence in Linz, Austria but underneath the calm and safe exterior of their life, there is something awful just below the surface.

The tale of the Schober’s is masterfully explored by Haneke who has chosen to show one day in the life of the family in 1987, 1988 and 1989. By using this structure Haneke allows the audience to experience the psychological state of the characters as they attend to their daily activities. The family wake up, silently eat breakfast and go their separate ways – Georg and Anna to work and later to the supermarket, Eva to school and when they all return home, they eat dinner with their guest, Anna’s brother - Alexander (Udo Samel). All of these scenes are instantly recognisable to the audience but something is not quite right and soon enough it comes to the surface as the characters come to terms with their current life and their expectations of themselves.

This is an extraordinary tale based on a true story and Haneke has made some brave choices in his depiction of the family, for example in the opening odd eight minute shot we are introduced to the family as they sit silently in their car going through a car wash. It is obvious Haneke does not want the audience to judge them as it isn’t until 10 minutes into the film in which we see their faces; instead he wants us to experience their lives and perhaps question our own.

Through the use of voice-over we learn what has occurred over the past three years but many things are left unsaid and they needn’t be defined; for example Eva pretending to be blind at school can be interpreted as attention-seeking behaviour or her behaviour could be the result of her isolation from her parents - we never see her father with her, only her mother attends to her before she sleeps at night. Georg not writing to his parents could be stemmed from a number of insecurities from financial to lack of job security, while Anna’s response to her mother’s death differs from her brother’s because perhaps she feels she needs to be strong for her brother and subsequently hides her grief - it could be a number of things. These are things that don’t need to be defined in the film because in reality life is not black and white and Haneke believes the medium of film should be used to make the audience think and reflect, rather then explanation and enlightenment.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

Presented in 1.78:1 and 16x9 enhanced widescreen, the transfer for the film is overall pleasing, with only minor positive and negative film grain and mild telecine wobble.

Encoded over a dual layer DVD, the film has the average high bit-rate of 8.08 mb/s which accounts for a clean transfer free of MPEG compression artefacts.

In the scenes which contain minimal lighting the shadow detail and black levels are average.

There is a slight softness to the image; however the natural and muted colour scheme is presented quite well.

The optional English subtitles appear as a clear yellow Arial font.

The film is divided into 16 chapters and the layer change occurs discretely at 48:57.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

The German Dolby Digital 2.0 mono option remains clear.

There were no obvious examples of lip-synch problems and as the soundtrack is mostly atmospheric the available audio option is suitable.

The film is composed around unsettling silences as Haneke document’s the growing isolation of the family.

Pop music is usually emitted from the car stereo or the television, notably music from artists such as Jennifer Rush and Meatloaf, while the main theme is credited to the Viennese composer Alban Berg.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio & Animation

The main menu is well designed and reflects the main themes of the feature film. The menu options appear on the television in the main living room of the Schober home. The options include play feature, access to extras, sixteen scene selections and set up options.

Interview with Michael Haneke (16:43)

The inclusion of this 2005 interview with Haneke is a wonderful supplement. This interview is conducted by Serge Toubiana and Haneke is forthcoming in the interview explaining how the film evolved from a newspaper headline and how many of the scenes can be interpreted in various ways. The director also recalls how the film was initially received by audiences and film critics. The interview is conducted in French and automatic English subtitles appear when the feature is selected.

Madman Propaganda

The following trailers are preceded by a heavily compressed anti privacy warning: Caché, Le Fils and Le Temps du Loup.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The local release is similar to R2 France (Gaumont Columbia Tristar Home Video) in terms of the inclusion of the interview but it only includes French subtitles.

The R2 Scandinavian (Future Film) release also includes the interview with the addition of Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish subtitles.

The R1 (Kino) and the local release are the best options for audiences desiring English subtitles. However the R1 DVD has a PAL-NTSC transfer.

Note both R2 releases are only available as part of a "Michael Haneke" box set.

The French box set includes Benny’s Video and 71 Fragmente einer Chronologie des Zufalls with Der Siebente Kontinent.

While the Scandinavian box set includes Benny’s Video, 71 Fragmente einer Chronologie des Zufalls and Funny Games with Der Siebente Kontinent.

Summary

This truly is a dark film - Der Siebente Kontinent is a chilling and brutal portrait of the despair of modern life.

This title is part of the Michael Haneke Directors Suite and it is another quality release from Madman Entertainment.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Vanessa Appassamy (Biography)
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1910, using DVI output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE 700. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha DSP-A595a - 5.1 DTS
Speakers(Front) DB Dynamics Polaris AC688F loudspeakers,(Centre) DB Dynamics Polaris Mk3 Model CC030,(Rear) Polaris Mk3 Model SSD425,(Subwoofer) Jensen JPS12

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE