A story about a boy called Benny, who watches violent movies, including a home-made video of a pig being slaughtered. Soon after, Benny loses his mind and kills a girl and films the murder with his video camera.
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A steely, if sometimes heavy handed, examination of atomisation from media in general and depictions of violence in particular (the means and mode of this film itself of course). It's a familiar counter-position, although with Haneke you get the claims minus a supporting polemic and if not quite Mchuhan either, is often a series of blank eggs without a chicken. They needle long after nevertheless.
Spectacularization, ideologic emptiness and the world through the lens for the masses have been a constant in Haneke's cinema, and that's why it's so important to watch one of his first films - Benny. I particularly enjoyed Arno Frisch and Angela Winkler's acting heartfully - specially from the middle on. A classic of urban neurosis and the lost of social standards by the contemporary age.
Benny doesn't really have a video; he IS a video, the sum of all videos, a void plastered with pulsating images, down the drain of which flow all the various senses save a chilled abstraction of vision: the sense of a self embedded within the social, embodied among vulnerable bodies, installed precariously in an inexorable, non-manipulable procession of moments. Not undidactically, Haneke points fingers, pokes eyes.
A truly great film about our civilization. Some probably missed the point. They just should hear this sentence Haneke said once in an interview "I love sometimes to slap people in order to wake them up. Just to show them why they watch what they watch".
I probably shouldn't be allowed to comment on a film I didn't finish watching. But I must say, this movie blows. Boring and gross and pointless. It did however create great fodder for jokes. Haneke IS a master, but this is a terrible movie. Sorry.
Was the ending so "moralist"? Perhaps Benny wanted things to not be so cleaned up with his life. His parents offered to cover for him in hopes of maybe preserving a life for him and themselves. In my opinion, and as horrid as it sounds, Benny's confession to the police is just an addendum to the destruction he already brought about. Not saying that it's a bad thing, but it is what it is: his family's entropy.
Like The Seventh Continent, it's disturbing because of how blank and un-stylised everything in it is. I think it kind of dropped the ball towards the end and lost that disturbing edge slightly, but it's very good nonetheless.