The Seventh Continent (German: Der siebente Kontinent) is a 1989 Austrian drama film directed by Michael Haneke. It is Haneke's debut feature film, reportedly Inspired by a true story. The film chronicles the last years of the European family in Austria, which consists of Georg, an engineer; his wife Anna, an optician; and their young daughter, Eva. They lead routine urban middle-class lives, with hopes of escaping to Australia to start a new life.
This film provides examples of:
- Comforting Comforter: In one scene Anna covers her sleeping daughter with a sheet.
- Death of a Child: The little girl dies first, and it's implied that it was her own wish.
- Downer Ending: As bleak as it gets, people.
- Driven to Suicide: A very realistic portrayal of suicide, and largely focuses on the emptiness of the central family's life.
- Exploding Fish Tanks: The fish tank doesn't survive.
- Fade to Black: All scenes end with a cut to black.
- Foreshadowing: The traffic accident probably hinted to the family at the possible way out of daily misery and loneliness.
- Genius Bonus: It would actually be inaccurate to state that the title refers to Australia. According to most geographers, there are either 5 or 6 continents in total. There is a school of thought that adheres to the number of seven - but in that case the seventh one would most probably be Antarctica (southernmost and discovered last), not Australia. This might be a subtle hint that everything regarding Australia in the film is a massive Red Herring.
- Immediate Self-Contradiction: The mother promising not to harm her daughter if she came clean about the blind going at school. Cue the slap in the face once the truth is out.
- Morning Routine: There are lots of repetitive shots of the main family doing mundane morning activities in part one and two, emphasizing the emptiness and loneliness that they are going through.
- The Promised Land: Australia is symbolized as the ideal place to escape to for the doomed European family. Ironically, this place is visualized as an otherworldly beach, with a mountain range on the left border and pool of water with mysterious waves (which are clearly physically impossible) in between. The falseness of this place foreshadows the fact that the parents never intended to go there.
- Red Herring: Australia, The Promised Land.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: An uplifting tune is playing on the radio when the family watches the aftermath of a car accident on the highway with the bodies lined up.
- Suicide Pact: Both parents decide to end their lives. Their little girl consents to the triple suicide, not realizing what she got herself into.
- Tampering with Food and Drink: The parents made her daughter drink poison. The little girl comments on the bitterness of the beverage.
- Voiceover Letter: The letter from Anna to her parents-in-law are voiced by her.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: The father is puking on screen after having ingested his poison cocktail.