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Code Unknown (2000)

Code inconnu: Récit incomplet de divers voyages (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Romance, War | 15 November 2000 (France)
A young man harasses a homeless woman, another man protests, the police arrest both and the woman has to leave the country. What were their various story-lines leading up to this event?

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Georges
Josef Bierbichler ...
The Farmer (as Sepp Bierbichler)
Alexandre Hamidi ...
Maimouna Hélène Diarra ...
Aminate (as Helene Diarra)
Ona Lu Yenke ...
Amadou
Djibril Kouyaté ...
The Father
...
Maria
Crenguta Hariton ...
Irina (as Crenguta Hariton Stoica)
Bob Nicolescu ...
Dragos
...
Pierre
...
Perrin
Didier Flamand ...
The Director
Walid Afkir ...
The Young Arab (as Walide Afkir)
...
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Storyline

Jean, a farm lad, wants to escape his silent father; he runs to Paris to his older brother, Georges, who's away covering the war in Kosovo. Angry, he throws a bag of half-eaten pastry into a beggar's lap. Amadou, a young Franco-African, berates him. The police arrive, arrest Amadou and deport the beggar. Georges's girlfriend Anne is upset; it colors her relationship with Georges when he returns from the war. Separate lives intersect for the one moment, around the pastry bag, and all are altered. We follow each as repercussions of the incident play out. Deaf children bookend the film pantomiming words, feelings, and situations: what they are expressing? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Love has a language all its own

Genres:

Drama | Romance | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

| |

Release Date:

15 November 2000 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Code Unknown  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$95,242
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The first scene of the film (following the last opening credit) is a single shot lasting over seven minutes. See more »

Quotes

Anne Laurent: Look over by the wall. That's the black kid who harassed Jean. Don't let him see...
[abrupt cut]
See more »

Connections

References Notting Hill (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Fascinating Exploration of Communication Across Race, Class, Gender, Ages, Geography and Senses
18 January 2006 | by See all my reviews

"Unknown Code: Incomplete Tales of Several Journeys (Code inconnu: Récit incomplet de divers voyages)" is a fascinating exploration of communication, using all the elements of film to create a trompe l'oeil of sight, sound and character interactions.

We see extended vignettes of people tangentially related through an accidental intersection in Paris. In a brief interview on the Sundance Channel, where I viewed the film, writer/director Michael Haneke said he specifically selected Paris because it is one of the few European cities whose multiculturalism is so visible. We see here how it attracts immigrants not only as traditionally from the rural countryside, but now from Eastern Europe and Africa.

Though not as violent as the incidents in "Amores perros", released the same year, or the later "Crash," the unsettling confrontation influences the characters' perceptions, of each other and of authority figures. We see them made sensitive to how people look, how people talk to each other, the sounds they make, and, even more importantly, shades how they interact. We see how differently people communicate with their own families, with their friends, their parents, their children, their colleagues, their lovers or their advisers, particularly through simple life cycle events.

Sometimes Michael Haneke toys with us, as the camera moves back and reveals that a poignant situation isn't as dire as we thought, particularly playing on the terrific Juliette Binoche's well-known image as a beautiful actress (and yes, she does look beautiful even standing around in lingerie ironing while watching TV). Or he plays ironic tricks – having deaf kids do emotional charades or perform in a marching drum band or creating ambiguity about a door entry code to reinforce a theme of restless homelessness. We see lovers who communicate passionately without words, in one lovely scene even without touching. (I wonder if this scene with these two inspired a related scene in Rodrigo García's recent "Nine Lives.")

One key character is a self-righteous photojournalist (really stereotypically portrayed by bearded, hunky, disheveled Thierry Neuvic in a multi-pocketed vest with an ever-present camera around his neck) documenting ethnic cleansing in Kosovo or taking candid portraits of unaware subway passengers. But he is helpless at assisting his rebellious teen brother or sullen farmer father or estranged young son. Issues of responsibility to neighbors and passersby is viscerally shown to be not the extreme goal of stopping genocide, but rather providing dignity to a fellow human being or simply listening to what's happening next door and acting on it.

Haneke provides sympathetic insight into the inner lives of African immigrants, with an ear to how happenings look different to Western rationalists than to those used to revelations of divine and interpretive meanings, particularly in dreams, or sense of time.

But while he is very sympathetic to the pushes and pulls of immigration that change people's place in society from matriarch to "the gypsy" as the universal "other" who everyone higher up in society puts down, the family scenes in the Romanian village are more stereotyped, with ethnic wedding dancing.

Haneke's disarmingly passive style, with almost no music or cinematic affectations (he even mocks his Dogme-style use of sound by showing actors in the film-within-a-film re-dubbing dialog lost to a passing airplane) does make us feel like voyeurs, with each vignette constructed in a single take. In the filmed interview he said the key opening scene took 32 takes before he was satisfied.


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