Thoughts while watching Funny Games (1997)
(1997, Michael Haneke)
Because I know a bit about the nature of this movie, as well as the director’s vision, I decided to give it the same treatment as I did with Once Upon a Time in the West. I thought it might be worthwhile to jot down notes as the story unfolded, rather than try to give a synopsis of my thoughts afterwards.
Obviously, SPOILERS abound. It is an 11-year-old movie, but since director Haneke has recently released a newly-shot version for U.S audiences, I give you fair warning. After the jump, I’ll assume you’ve seen it or don’t mind it being spoiled.
Are you ready to play a game? Here we go.
- Wow, the terrifying scream-music of John Zorn and Naked City – that brings me back to college days.
- Like Haneke’s Caché, the only other film of his I’ve seen, I feel like I’m being lulled into complacency.
- The white gloves DO look rather smart.
- It is good to see the late Ulrich Mühe in a role. He was fantastic in The Lives of Others.
- Ouch, 3-wood to the shin! I have a feeling he’s not walking that off.
- Sadistic game of Hot and Cold. I don’t think she really wanted to win. And featured a REALLY REALLY SUBTLE WINK to the audience.
- Hmmm, I really need to play some golf this summer…
- Starting to see why people would be scandalized by this picture. Totally innocent people tortured for literally no reason, other than entertainment. OUR entertainment.
- Allusions to A Clockwork Orange cannot be denied. From the white palette of the killers’ wardrobe to the casualness of their cruelty. Residuals should be put directly in Malcolm McDowell’s bank account.
- I love a polite psychopath.
- The scene where the killer continues to make a sandwich during the off-screen murder of the boy is particularly nasty. And I guess, extremely effective in making me squirm.
- Hey, if you wanted squirming, how about a blood-splattered TV.
- MAN, this is a long take. A few times I had to check that the counter was still running.
- Haneke is totally messing with our heads. Is he torturing us?
- Or are we participating in the torture. I mean, he’s hinting with all those SUBTLE WINKS, that we’re playing an active part. By continuing to watch, aren’t we allowing it to continue?
- The parents’ reaction to the boy’s death are so real and reactionary, as it would be to real violence. There are definite consequences of such a killing, and we’re seeing a long stretch of it sinking in.
- My god, it’s STILL THE SAME SHOT. What a long, excruciating single take. Pretty agonizing to watch.
- And of course it’s not over – 35 minutes to go.
- Again – being lulled into complacency. Although now of course, there’s a persistent threat with every extra thing the adult characters do to “waste time”.
- OH FUCK – stop screwing around and get out of that kitchen window…
- Man, that’s a nasty knee break, blood too. Compound fracture, gunshot?
- Agh! The second car!
- If you really mean that aside, Paul — no, I don’t care, and I’m really ready for this to be done.
- The remote control gag: Ultimate and unrelenting. And now we’ve crossed over into farce.
- As if we didn’t already know, we’re going to have to see this through to completion….
- Ciao bella. Splash.
- Hey, there’s the house with the ivy. The games begin again…
- and Naked City plays us out.
It’s sort of a social experiment rather than a film. It’s constantly daring to you to come closer, while it’s also working hard to repel you. I can’t decide if it’s A) extremely hateful toward its audience or B) challenging us to examine why we find it so compelling. It was well-made, and will haunt me for a good while. Therefore, I’ll give it