Claudio Rozzoni
New University of Lisbon
Haneke’s 1997 adaptation of Franz Kafka’s Das Schloß is thus far his last work for television[1]. Although «the Austrian film almanac lists» it «as a feature film» and it «was released in Austrian cinemas before its television première» [2], Haneke has always professed The Castle to be a TV film adaption, «an honorable enterprise» aimed at «bring[ing] literature closer to an audience» [3]. This is a significant remark, as it conveys a belief that this specific double status – qua TV product and qua adaption of a literary work –prevents film adaptation from being considered «autonomous art». For one, he states, a work destined for TV by definition «serves audience expectations». For another, as an adaptation, a work is necessarily dependent upon its original source. [1] Before being well-known as a very influential film director, Michael Haneke began working for television in 1967. His first TV film, i.e., After Liverpool, was released long before his first feature film, Der siebente Kontinent, which was issued in 1989. This should not come as a surprise, since «practically every German-speaking filmmaker» at that time «started out directing films for television, taking advantage of the relatively generous system of subsidies and the general openness of German and Austrian state television channels to aesthetic innovation». In any case, Haneke later specified that directing for television was not solely a matter of opportunity, but also a fitting milieu in which to develop his own style. [2] However, that reportedly happened against Haneke’s will: «The Castle, for example, was in fact made for television, even though it will now be shown in movie houses as well. In my view, film adaptations are not genuine works of art. And I don’t really know of any film adaptation that really worked very well». Later he will confirm this point: «I would not have dared to turn The Castle into a movie for the big screen». [3] Let us note that this does not imply that Haneke feels a work formally presented as an adaptation cannot result in a great feature film. However, properly speaking, such a film could no longer be called an adaptation, since «it is not possible to serve two masters at the same time». Haneke is quite categorical on this point: «Thus one has to decide. Either I use a book as a quarry for ideas for something that I want to create myself, then it is a failed project as a film adaptation, or it is to be a film for a television program that has a commitment to cultural standards».
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DOI 10.13130/2240-9599/14815
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