Funny Games (1997)

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I have committed the ultimate film crime. Before I watched this Haneke movie from 1997, I actually watched the Haneke remake from a couple of years ago. You can slap me on the hands if you would like. Enjoying that film is a stretch but I thought it was well worth watching. However upon viewing this original, I realized I must have blocked out most of the violence and sadistic killings. Otherwise why would I have put myself through this torture twice?

This film is brutal. I just want to warn you that this film is very very hard to watch. You come to know the couple through quiet and enriching moments in the car on the way to their lake house. Then you meet these two young men dressed in all white and with gloves on. At first they seem nothing but bumbling idiots, but than they turn ever so slightly until you realize uncomfortably these men are not going to leave these nice people alone. The question is always asked throughout the course of this film by both the characters and the viewers: why are they doing this? They are not getting anything financial out of this (and they definitely don’t need it. They drop hints at several different points that they come from very rich families.). They hint at sexual pleasure but it seems more like a game then actual pleasure. In fact everything they do to this family are just games that you would pull on a mouse. Their answer is the often quoted “why not?”

This film punishes you for watching it. It seems that these two men had watched too much media to feel anything about the mayhem and violence. But they don’t watch any more than you or I do. Are we desensitized by our over exposure of violence? I would say in most cases that we are. I personally have watched extremely violent american and asian movies so much that it is nothing for me to see a spray of blood on the screen. Of course it is different if the filmmaker let you inside the characters’ world as opposed to them just being hit men or screaming teenagers (all of which should die, let’s be honest). It admonishes you for choosing to watch this film. And yet without watching this film, I wouldn’t have thought on a calm and sunny Thursday afternoon about the nature of violence. It gave me that intellectual premise and for that I am grateful. I always welcome challenges to my way of thinking.

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