The Time of the Wolf (Michael Haneke, 2003)

Are the fundamentals of humanity founded in an evolved sense of ethics, or a biological imperative to survive? Is the death of a child so painful because they represent all that is innocent, a being that cannot care for itself, and has yet to achieve its potential? ?Or is it because we are wired to breed and to evolve, and the loss of a child is the loss of the future of our species? Is biology and psychology so far removed, or are they linked as surely as the tide is regulated by the moon?

And then, at what point is our apparent self-destructive nature motivated by misplaced animalistic instincts… is its effect as strong as the apparent virtues and development of social mores and values? When we face our mortality, we are always presented with a choice, even if we cannot resist giving into one option. We believe we have freedom, we believe that what we fight is ourselves, and our own weaknesses. Perhaps it is the weakness of our species, but that is a dangerous thought, one that serves to justify our greater injustices and violations of each other.

Do I cry because I’ve been wronged, or because I haven’t got what I want? Is there a difference? I want to lead my life free of responsibilities, but there is an aching in my heart that draws me to others, that inspires a belief that we are good and that we can overcome. Is this a biological imperative, a tool for survival… we are all too weak in body and spirit to survive alone, so we must band together, even if togetherness and ugliness.

The Time of the Wolf turns the lens inwards, asking us what most other so-called post-apocalyptic films do, how far would we go to survive? This is an over-simplification of a very complex drive and idea, and one that is explored with both appropriate bleakness and humanity in Haneke’s film. Even those that would stop at nothing to survive, probably behave with the same callousness in our own reality, even if it is on the simplest scales. A man who controls his family, his work, his pencils will take the opportunity to control more and more, and desperation breeds these chances.

The daughter is compelled to write and is drawn to music, and apparently even moved by love, even when she has nothing left. She has her family, but she cannot connect to them… perhaps because it is too painful to empathise with those you understand best, even if you realize you may have never understood them. How can you believe in love when it is no longer real, and is either a commodity or a tragedy? Is this quest for ideals and beauty just another means of survival?

Will you hold me in the dark of the night…? I can’t seem to find warmth in your arms anymore, there is nothing left but tears, and yet, I’m still alive. I’m no longer clean, and yet I have something to give, I have the will to refuse and you rip me apart, I’m still alive, but I kill myself because you’ve robbed me of my only gift, of the only thing I owned, the only beautiful thing I had left. Was it even beautiful? Well, it doesn’t matter, it was mine and I’m taking it back by destroying it. We are always spiralling towards destruction, towards chaos, towards cold… but why haven’t we fallen into it already? We forget sometimes we are all brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons… we end with a fire in the dark, so we know how to find each other in case we are lost.

3 responses to “The Time of the Wolf (Michael Haneke, 2003)

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