As Georges travels back to his mother’s home, it becomes apparent that a great deal that has previously seemed peaceful is secretly disturbing, surviving in a kind of hidden life within Georges’ quiet and thoughtful outward personae. How can he not know, for example, that his mother’s health has severely deteriorated, and that she cannot now even leave her house? Has he been so long of touch with his apparently loving mother (Annie Girardot)? And why is Georges suddenly having nightmares about a young Algerian boy who his father and mother once had hoped to adopt after the boy’s parents had died? And what happened to that boy, Majid (Maurice Bénichou)?
The idea came to be much more directly, when it became apparent that Haneke was far less focused on revealing who had sent the tapes than he was on revealing the seemingly “forgotten” event in French culture and the effects that guilt might have created for all future generations. Ultimately, the film’s audience asking “who’s watching” has to answer with the obvious truth: we are—through the insistence of the director.