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Time Of The Wolf

Time Of The Wolf

By Patrick Samuel • November 23rd, 2014
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
arte France Cinéma

Original release: October 8th, 2003
Running time: 113 minutes

Country of origin: France, Austria, Germany
Original language: French, Romanian

Writer and director: Michael Haneke

Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Daniel Duval, Béatrice Dalle, Patrice Chéreau

Time Of The Wolf

What if today was the last day like this? Tomorrow they’d be no job to go to, no bills to pay and no more pressures to maintain the consumerist lifestyle that’s been so heavily drilled into us all. It sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? But with that comes the rest; no clean water, no electricity, no central heating, no public transport and no fresh food at the supermarkets.

They’d be no more use for mobile phones as networks would be down anyway, no use for computers, televisions or kindles because there’d be no power to run them on. You wouldn’t be able to use your car because petrol stations wouldn’t stock fuel anymore, and like every other shop, they’d be looted bare. This is the life we’d face if something like the Asian tsunami, Katrina, Fukushima, Chernobyl or Hiroshima would happen on a much bigger scale. The life we know today would end tomorrow.

In Michael Haneke’s 2003 film, Le Temps du Loup, he shows us what life would be like after an unknown event brings everything to a grinding halt. With the immediate collapse of government and society, uncontaminated water becomes scarce and all livestock has to be burned. In the ensuing chaos we encounter the Laurent family fleeing from the city, they plan to take refuge in their home in the countryside but when they arrive there they find it occupied by strangers.

Time Of The Wolf

Instead of being welcomed, they’re assaulted and one of them is violently murdered, and again they’re forced to leave, this time without any supplies or transport. The family try to get help from those they know in the village, but they find themselves repeatedly turned away. Forced to spend the night in a barn, they encounter a teenage boy the next morning and together Anne (Isabelle Huppert), her two children Eva (Anaïs Demoustier) and Ben (Lucas Biscombe), and the boy wait for a train that will hopefully take them to a better place.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Le Temps du Loup is that Haneke refuses to explain what event caused this apocalypse. It’s never discussed by any of the film’s characters and the only hints we get about what caused the world to end is the contaminated water and burning of the livestock. The “how”, the “when” or the “why” isn’t what he wants us to focus on, it’s more the “what now?” and this is evident in the way the surviving members of the Laurent family deal with events that have befallen them.

On the surface the film deals with quite bleak themes, and Haneke’s almost documentary approach approach to the cinematography gives the film a sharp bite of realism, but looking at it Time Of The Wolfa little deeper there’s also a great sense of hope, especially in the film’s final moments as the characters wait for a train to take them to a better place. We never know where they’re going, and it doesn’t matter, what’s important is that their spirits haven’t been broken by the chaos and devastation around them.

In some ways the horrors they encounter mirrors what we’ve seen in holocaust films, documentaries made about Hiroshima and news footage from Katrina; we see the entire spectrum of the human spirit in all its strength and fragility. Haneke’s always been the type of filmmaker who effortlessly captures the duality of this in his films and Le Temps du Loup is certainly no exception.

Having first seen it when it was presented during one of my Filmosophy classes at university and discussed alongside the work of Daniel Frampton, it remains one of the highlights from my three-year degree course, and not just because I think it’s a great film, but also for the debate it generated in class about how our lives would change if such an event came along. We talked about for almost the rest of the semester and wrote papers on it, which we shared with the class as a whole about what Haneke was striving for with a film like this. We all had different answers of course, but the one thing that remained constant was our sudden awareness of how quickly our lives today could all change.

Time Of The Wolf

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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