Saturday, 4 January 2014

Benny's Video [1992]

Haneke continued his fascination with intense urban alienation, utter apathy towards social conventions and pathological tendencies in a contemporary setting with Benny’s Video, his dark, disturbing and highly provocative follow-up to his brilliant debut feature The Seventh Continent, and the second chapter in what is referred to as his ‘Glaciation Trilogy’. Benny (Arno Frisch) is an emotionally isolated, clinically detached and self-obsessed teenager for whom life comprises of television, watching rented violent films and shooting videos for his personal collection, and has a rather cold relationship with his parents – his vocally concerned father (Ulrich Mühe) and his diffident mother (Angela Winkler). When he meets a cute looking girl outside a video store and brings her home, one feels that he’s possibly making his way towards human connect; however, in a gruesome turn of events, he casually kills her with a slaughter gun while recording the proceedings on his camera, and then goes back to life as usual. When he finally reveals the crime to his shocked parents, his father goes into a denial and decides to circumvent the law to help him out, oblivious of what lies in store for them at the chilling climax. Understandably, the film also dealt with the theme of media’s intrusive presence in our lives, which he would explore to even more disorienting effects with Funny Games. The acting was pitch-perfect, while the complete lack of any background score, distancing cinematography, and such uncompromising formal and aesthetic choices, coupled with the punctuating violence – the film begins with the video of a pig being shot – and nihilistic commentaries, made this a stark, intense and an extremely discomfiting viewing experience.

Director: Michael Haneke
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama
Language: German/English
Country: Austria


Sam Juliano said...

"....with intense urban alienation, utter apathy towards social conventions and pathological tendencies...."

Ha Shubhahit, you leave few crumbs for us here! Yes this is another earlier Haneke that has developed a cult reputation, and is generally mentioned as one of the director's essential works. Yes no music and heightened violence does make for a disturbing though atypical experience in the director's unique cinema.

Great review.

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Sam. This was an intensely disturbing watch with really disturbing commentaries - no wonder Haneke immediately came to be recognized as one of the most important directors of his generation.