26 Oct 2010

Funny Games (Heneke, 2008) and Games with Film Language

Discussed by J.J. *Jolanta Jasiulionyte*

The prodigiously unpleasant "Funny Games" is clearly the work of a technical master, a filmmaker capable of manipulating our fears with expert, Teutonic (Germanic) precision” (Ansen, David; 2008)

This quote by David Ansen at Newsweek might be linked to one of the postmodern ideas in the film Funny games, that any language system (film language in this case) is something to be played with.

To rephrase  Christopher Butler from The new ways of seeing the world, it developed from the idea that there’s no point in trying to depict facts objectively, since, as in postmodern view, its not even possible to do so; the truth we want to explain is always only our own subjective construction via language (any form of it: verbal, film, pictorial ect.) which is also, a matter of uncertainty aswell ( so both, the motif and the mean of explaining it,  is subjective, relative and not universal). 

Postmodern thought is, not only the "truths" can  be only a  representation, depictions of the interpreted meanings, but also they are rerepresented and interpreted  using OUR OWN (and not universal) intellectual framework which is shaped from the unique experiences and axioms (what we believe in unconditionally) each of us have.

And these are central arguments of deconstruction: the truth is relative to differing stand points; as there’s no point in believing in the literal meaning of the language, since its all a cultural (and subjective) constructs. 

Therefore, this view follows: Both Language conventions and the meaning it constructs is something to play with. 

So does Funny Games. The director constructs a seemingly typical violent  film  but by further exploring a film language conventions and by breaking them the film becomes a critique and a reflection of  the typical Hollywood movies which exploit violence on screen.

For instance, Pitt, the angelic-looking demon periodically breaks the fourth wall and addresses the audience, asking us to bet on whether the family will end up dead or alive. But it takes away the believability of the films constructed reality, filmmaker puts all these efforts to make the audience believe in the world they’re seeing, and then as if contradicting his own (or more likely audiences expected)  logic he toys with film language. Or is it actually that he reminds us: this is all an illusion, it’s a film you’re watching; and so for several times.

To give another example, the most intense moment in the film, when one of the family member was about to be killed, one might find himself more interested who will win the car races: It could be a smart use of film language: the audience was shown one of the attackers having a gun ready to kill , but then the camera points to TV screen and as we see cars racing, we hear people scream in the background and finally blood splatters the screen. But car race is still on. 

Again, we’re introduced with some confusion: they are about to be killed, that’s the most important bit; show me the killing, the entertaining bit! On the other hand the director still  doesn’t take anything away from the bloodthirsty audience (so to say): we're entertained by the car races, we still get to see the blood splatters;ironical jokes of Heneke.

But there were numerous examples of smart use of film language all of which sucseeded  to make the audience feel uncomfortable,frsutrated  and puzzled if that‘s the right emotion you‘re suposed to feel ect.

The director uses (plays with) the language in such a smart way the film is an experience which  "becomes impossible to forget—and, for many viewers, both will be impossible to forgive" (Ansen, David; 2008)

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  1. You can say anything, but really this movie sucks. It's terrible, doesn't matter the intention of the director, it is just terrible, especially the part of the control when the guy rewind everything. I just didn't stop watching on this part because it was the ending. One of the worst movies ever made.

  2. exactly how I felt when left the screening room.. Angry!