The Absence / Die Abwesenheit

(Fiction, Germany, 1992, 112’, C, Fr ST)

by Peter Handke

with Eustaquio Barjau, Jeanne Moreau, Alex Descas, Bruno Ganz, Sophie Semin

The Absence


An initiatory journey across the continents of four characters guided by an old man. Each one will meet the other and these others will form a group that will move, like an expedition, fleeing from what pushed them to leave.


« L’atmosphère est merveilleusement fragile, un mélange poétique de présence con- crète et d’enchantement somnambulique. » Die Zeit

Film Author :

Peter Handke
Peter Handke

Born in 1942, Peter Handke is an Austrian writer, playwright, screenwriter, director and translator. He is the recipient of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Literature. Approaching writing from his early youth in a direct heritage with the Wiener Gruppe, his style is steeped in Expressionist, Dadaist and Surrealist influences. He published his first novel in 1965, giving up his law studies to devote himself to writing. The following year, a scandal made him famous. He presented a play, Outrage to the Public, at the Group 47 meeting in Princeton, openly criticizing the aesthetic principles of this movement that had dominated the German literary scene since the end of the war. During the 1970s, his prose returned to a more traditional narrative form, which inspired his director friend Wim Wenders to make two films: The Goalkeeper’s Anguish at the Penalty (1972), an adaptation of the novel of the same name, and Alice in the Cities (1974), which was largely influenced by his reading of The Short Letter for a Long Goodbye (1972). But Peter Handke himself, a great cinephile, wrote a screenplay in 1974 that would eventually become a novel before being made into a film: The Left-Handed Woman. In 1992 he repeated the experience by directing The Absence, with Bruno Ganz and Jeanne Moreau as the main actors. For Wim Wenders he continues to write original screenplays: the masterpiece The Wings of Desire (1987), but also False Movement (1975), inspired by Goethe’s Bildungsroman, and the most recent film The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez (2016). His work alternates between the despair of incommunicability and the dream of a relationship with the other made possible. It is often about wandering, dissolute relationships, sudden loneliness, inadequacy to the normal modes of sociability. The Handkian character is this postmodern man in the grip of melancholy, advancing in life as if out of himself, haunted by an ideal of union with the other. But it is with lightness that he advances, wanders, lets himself be tossed around the world, until there is a shock.

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