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Code Unknown(2000) ((INSTALL))


A series of events unfold like a chain reaction, all stemming from a minor event that brings the film's five characters together. Set in Paris, France, Anne is an actress whose boyfriend Georges photographs the war in Kosovo. Georges' brother, Jean, is looking for the entry code to Georges' apartment. These characters lives interconnect with a Romanian immigrant and a deaf teacher.




Code Unknown(2000)



  • Abusive Parents: Anne hears a girl screaming and parents shouting in her apartment building. Soon later the girl is dead. Draw your own conclusions.

  • Alone with the Psycho: The Film Within a Film features a scene where Anne is being trapped in a room with the Collector.

  • Bookends: The first and last scene of the movie involve a mute child doing sign language towards the camera.

  • Double-Meaning Title: The reason for the whole chain of events surrounding the humiliation of Maria only occurs because Jean does not know the code for Anne and Georges' door. Besides that primary meaning, Code Unknown also seems to point to the lack of a key for the proper communication between different characters and ethnicities.

  • Fade to Black: A trademark of Haneke. All scenes cut black before new scenes start.

  • Failure-to-Save Murder: Played with. Anne received a note that mentions the little girl in her apartment block being in danger. Yet she did not act on it and later we see Anne and the old neighbor attend the funeral of said girl.

  • Film Within a Film: Several sequences show Anna being busy shooting a movie called The Collector. We see snippets of the final movie (pool scene) and Anne in post-production doing dubbing work.

  • The Glasses Come Off: The old Arab in the metro takes off his glasses and hands them to Anne before confronting the bully.

  • Here We Go Again!: The film clearly implies a cyclical nature to the lives of the main characters. At the end: Georges is once again returning from a war-torn country.

  • Anne once again does not answer her phone, as something she says at the beginning informs us, 'In the bath I can't hear the phone.'

  • Maria is back in the place she was deported from doing exactly as before.

  • Leave the Camera Running: A trademark of Haneke. A couple of scenes drag on with little to no action taking place like the plowing scene at the farmland where the tractor leaves the frame but the camera keeps shooting the empty field for another 35 seconds.

  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Amadou tries to stand up for the Romanian beggar but his actions only lead to her deportation.

  • No Ending: The plot has no resolution.

  • The Oner: All segments are shot as single takes, with some lasting as long as over seven minutes.

  • The Precarious Ledge: The couple in the Film Within a Film section gets freaked out when they see their little son climbing about on a ledge.

  • Proscenium Reveal: The pool scene is revealed to be part of the Film Within a Film as the reel suddenly stops and the actors get up in front of the canvas to do their dubbing work.

  • Reality Has No Soundtrack: There is no soundtrack apart from flute music and drums being played in-universe.

  • Shout-Out: Anne's Film Within a Film shows numerous parallels to the 1965 movie version of The Collector, starting with the title.

  • Silent Credits: A trademark of Haneke. The opening and closing credits run in silence. In fact, there is no score in the entire film apart from the drumming.

  • Slice of Life: Many scenes involve day-to-day activities like going shopping, ironing clothes, giving drumming lessons or doing farm work.

  • Underwater Kiss: Downplayed. The pool scene opens with Anne and the other actor sharing a kiss while surfacing.

  • Walk and Talk: Done in the first scene after the opening where Anne and Jean walk and talk down a Parisian street. Lampshaded by Anne:Anne: Look, I'm in a hurry. Tell me what's wrong as we walk.



For someone like me, who was born and raised in the racially homogenous country Japan, it seems as if these codes, unleashed from every direction and unmixed, form a diffuse reflection of the world around.


If there is a symmetry between the spatial segregation of the city and the fragmentation of narrative form, this is pushed further in Code Unknown: Incomplete Tales of Several Journeys. As the subtitle suggests, the form of the film enacts the fracturing of narrative coherence. The film effectively stages the alienation of city life for the audience through its refusal to make connections, interpret events as meaningful, to effectively decipher a code for us. Yet the spatial relations of the film are not simply reproducing alienation but presenting the imaginary impossibility of a shared social space, the failure of the city as an emblem of unity.


DELORD, Frédéric. "Auditioning for Shakespeare: Twelfth Night in Michael Haneke's Code Unknown." In Nathalie Vienne-Guerrin & Patricia Dorval (eds). Shakespeare on Screen in Francophonia: The Shakscreen Collection 1. Montpellier (France): IRCL, Université Paul-Valéry/Montpellier 3, 2012. Online: _code_unknown/ (last modified June 21, 2012). 041b061a72


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