The infrequency of music in Michael Haneke’s films is frequently mentioned by critics, but usually only in passing. That Haneke often denies his audiences the comfort of suturing or conventional musical structures demands closer scrutiny. I explore the openings of representative examples: Caché (2005) and Funny Games (1997, remade in 2007). The structured silences of Caché have the most unnerving power: the absence of any harmonious, rhythmic, or melodic pattern communicates the devastating inconclusiveness that is, in the film, connected with the fallout from colonial tragedy. The sparing use of music in both versions of Funny Games is no less confrontational: the opening collision of operatic and thrashpunk music establishes Haneke’s intent to radically reframe the horror genre. I explore how these soundtracks are crucial for establishing that the films are “interrogative texts” (to apply Catherine Belsey’s term), films that self-consciously raise unsettling questions as opposed to offering the spectator the formulaic security of classic realism. Ultimately, I argue that the soundtracks of Haneke’s films also call attention to the processes of their construction and manipulation so as to be, in the director’s words, “more honest.”

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