Unknown Knowns: Michael Haneke’s Caché and the Failure of Allegory – The Modern Language Review – article

Unknown Knowns: Michael Haneke’s Caché and the Failure of Allegory

Dawn Fulton | The Modern Language Review

2019-10-10

Michael Haneke’s 2005 film Caché uses the police massacre of North African demonstrators that took place in Paris on 17 October 1961 as an allegory of national guilt. This article considers the ethical stakes of this formal move, arguing that the problem of concealment at the heart of the film’s narrative is also the reason why the 1961 massacre does not ‘work’ as an allegory. In this failure, Caché reveals a dilemma unique to traumatic histories that have escaped widespread recognition: the tension between the absence of collective memory and the potentially reparative capacities of elliptical representation.

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