Michael Haneke (hä´nəkə), 1942–, Austrian film director and screenwriter, b. Munich, Germany. In the 1970s and 80s, he wrote and directed for television and the theater. His first film, The Seventh Continent (1989), which like nearly all of his works he both wrote and directed, tells of a family that commits suicide together. It is the first of a German-language trilogy that also includes Benny's Video (1992) and 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance (1994). In these films, which set the pattern for his later works, alienated, repressed, and suffering characters confront a brutal and unjust world; Haneke's oeuvre has been described as a "cinema of cruelty." Funny Games, first made in German (1997) and later in English (2008), tells of the torturing of a family by a pair of sadistic young men. Among his best-known works is the French-language Caché (2005), in which a videotape detailing a couple's activities appears on their doorstep daily, leading eventually to destruction and death. Haneke's other films in French include The Piano Teacher (2001), Time of the Wolf (2003), and the Golden Globe–winning The White Ribbon (2009). Amour (2012, Academy Award) is uncharacteristically affectionate, but completely unsentimental, as it shows a cultivated and loving Parisian couple enduring aging's miseries and life's end.
See R. Grundmann, A Companion to Michael Haneke (2010); studies by C. Wheatley (2009), P. Brunette (2010), B. Price and J. D. Rhodes, ed. (2010), O. C. Speck (2010), and D. E. Russell (2011).