Saturday, February 16, 2008


I was thinking about Haneke's philosophy behind Benny's Video and Funny Games. One of his main problems the replacement of actual emotional connection with images (film or tv or entertainment). He's worried about losing human interaction to media. We no longer have a problem with violence or horrible things because they have become so prevalent on screen.

I was also thinking about this in terms of Cloverfield, which seems to try to make that point but misses heavily, and Romero's Diary of the Dead, which I haven't seen yet.

In Benny's Video, there's the dead pig at the beginning and the murder on screen (but actually off only hear the audio). Here's my problem: if Haneke is worried about film overtaking our sensibilities or making us numb to this violence, isn't the murder on/off screen just another example of film's totality? We're still disconnected from the actual moral center of his argument; human empathy isn't there, it's still mediated through film. I know he's trying to re-sensitize us to this horror, and we don't actually see the murder, we only hear it. Thus the image is all in our brain. I'd still argue that it is all part of a big filmic set up, though. Image is just replaced by audio.

An image of an image in Benny's Video:

Funny Games works better. The audience is explicitly implicated in the violence by characters in the movie. Good move. The fourth wall is broken down, something beyond the film is suggested , and we're brought into the experience as participants rather than just viewers.

A wink to the viewer in Funny Games:

It's strange when a movie wants to talk to us about how roped to media and camera and how disconnected from reality we are. Cloverfield is a good example. But when you edit the images and shoot them in a way that supposedly mimics the visuals of a handheld camera, aren't you just manipulating the medium even further to create an emotional response? It's now just a layered emotional response: one built on the fact that we know film manipulates us through editing and cinematography.

Strange ideas. It just struck me yesterday when I read the NY Times review of Diary of the Dead. It's a good read, I'd check it out if I were you.

Going to do a short editing sesh today on Be Handsome and then upload it tonight. Woop!


Grant! said...

I don't know if we have different editions of the movie, but i saw me some slaughtered pig. I think that may very well be a point in Haneke's favor.

I agree that Funny Games was a better movie (though I'm convinced Benny's Video is almost a prequil), I did love the adittion of the Bataille rubing-blood-on-my-naked-body-so-I-can-experience-the-real aspect. Funny Games seemed to use post modern ideas to make fun of the audience, as where always painfully aware of the fact that we where watching a movie. benny's Video seemed to explore the themes through the main character and through a more solid narrative structure ( that's not to say the camera work and shots of routine and video-watching-video was not equally important).
Bottom line, Benny's video was a man trying to find the real, Funny Games was a man trying to tell us that we're looking in the wrong place.

Grant! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
joe said...

Yah that's what I meant: the pig killed at the beginning. how's this a point in his favor? he's just using the same tactics (violence on screen) to jar us into a reaction (usually it is pleasure in violent action movies, here it sucks and is horrible to watch. same diff).