DON'T DO VIOLENCE TO VIOLENCE:
In defense of Funny Games U.S.
By Linda Z
In my earlier review, see below, I confessed to being so enamored by this film that it rendered me tongue tied. But Prairie Miller and our readers have sufficiently loosened my tongue that I am more capable of giving those vital details to enable readers to go to the see the film and understand, emotionally and intellectually the work of a true genius.
History has taught us that the genius is rarely understood at the time of his greatest works. In this regard Michael Haneke is no exception. However, Michael Haneke addresses this problem. By remaking the film he has taken up the burden of his intellectual superiority.
In his opinion this film is more true today in the United State than when he originally made it and that is the reason he has remade it.
What he wants is for more people to see and understand what he is saying.
What is he saying?
Although there is only a seven second difference between his original film and the remake, the substantive difference is important. These actors are "more professional" Michael Haneke said in the press session I attended.
If this is just another one of many gratuitously violent films, why should this slight difference in the actors make such a profound difference to the Director?
The answer lies in what he is trying to convey. The actors are not people but caricatures of real people. They are like robots, plastic renditions of human beings. They have no past, no real emotions. Even the family in the car ride to their summer house are plastic and the music which is not really what it seems to be, is plastic, annoying, because it has no melody, nothing to emotionally grab hold of. It is a wake up call. It throws all other thoughts out of one's mind to put us in the moment. But don't we live from moment to moment with anxiety hovering over all of our lives
Funny Games is not about violence, the blood and gore type It is about the game, life as a violent, dehumanizing, grossly disturbing game.
This is not Hollywood. We understand that this is not a Hollywood film by deliberate effort when the Dircetor breaks all the rules in film making and gives us a rerun of a tense moment of potential escape. In Hollywood the good guys win. I found myself relaxing with the original film take, the good guys win version and when the scene is rerun, and it becomes obvious that the Director is playing with us just like the media always does, and the truth here prevails: the good guys will not win, I found myself emotionally distraught, confused and then educated. This is a film that says we are so used to seeing the good guys win but the truth is the bad ones are wining every day. And they win while we watch television and cheer about a sports event with all that superfluity of emotion. That eliciting of exuberant emotion is a game visited upon us by Hollywood and the media.
Look at the news. Designed to entertain. War reduced to a numbers game peppered with the implicit understanding that we, the perpetrators of violence worldwide with the dissemination of weapons of destruction and overt acts of aggression, are the good guys and we are winning.
This is not a Marxist film. It is not about one class struggle against another.
Every character is of the same class, made from the same cloth, with the same higher education and the same overt display of money, in clothes, life style. Thus it is impossible to say who is good, who is bad. These characters are "beyond good and evil" as are those school children with guns drawn shooting at those with whom they spend the everyday moments of their lives. There is even a Biblical reference in the names, Paul and Peter, for the serial killers.
This film says we are all alone even with our new found cell phones and other means of communication that don't work when we need them most.
When we close the gate to our inner selves, our summer estate, we are making ourselves more vulnerable to attack.
It is a mistake, an important error in judgment, not to see this film. We must open our eyes to what life really is, accept, and embrace the violence of our world. A prerequisite to meaningful change is the understanding emotionally and intellectually of what is.
Funny Games gives me/us hope.
SEE IT. Then tell me how wrong, how right I am