RE: Funny Games '97

Funny Games (1997)

Missing Visual Aid

Directed by Michael Haneke

Criterion Collection Edition

"Haneke's explosive opinion on media violence certainly caused quite a stir in the audience. See, this '97 did receive the critical attention of Westerners even though it needed more of a public response. The discussion around the film's stage-lighted topic of cinematic violence still hit the world; it's just that the public itself wasn't involved. Cinematic violence takes the front stage in America, less so than in Austria. It still hit the arthouse crowd but didn't impact the theatres as much as in 2007. Even then, the message felt too direct for some viewers, leaving some to get up and leave the cinema (a response encouraged by Haneke himself). Still, the 2007 version is preferred because of its message for Americans: when does cinematic violence cross the line? Haneke isn't concerned about how the film's reception reflects that question but rather the physical, violent reaction that the film creates. I remember being immediately pissed off at "the one" scene; Haneke laid the perfect reactive trap in the film's climax to tease you with victory. Contemporary critiques contain a similar violent reaction; Jim Emerson of Roger Ebert compares the movie to the Abu Ghraib torture photos. The public itself creates its response with the act of leaving the theater. As Haneke writes in his supplementary essay, he wants to "show the viewer his position vis-a-vis violence and its portrayal" (579). Thus, Funny Games (either version, but more specifically, the 2007 one) displays more than a critique of violent cinema. It creates an environment where the audience becomes the violent actor in response to the film, self-reflexively showing how far someone can go to accept or deny over-the-top cinematic violence."

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