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Quick-Thoughts: Michael Haneke’s Benny’s Video (1992)

Benny’s Video is definitely, with no ifs or buts, the prequel to Funny Games. Arno Frisch, you devil.

Movies can be an escape. For Benny though, movies got promoted past an escape. The escape became the reality, and the reality became the escape. Except Benny didn’t want to escape anymore; that was lost. Benny decided to accept… “reality.” But who’s to say that none of us, the roughly 7.5 billion humans on Earth, feeding and feeding at the constant spiel of media entertainment every day, unconsciously suffer from the same condition that young Benny does. 

Yet, there’s a second part to this case. How does one aid someone in the presence of this spell? For Benny’s parents, it’s to indulge. They too are unaware of entertainment’s influence. They unknowingly provoke Benny’s reality by letting him get away with a terrible action that he’s committed. Ultimately, the parents have allowed Benny to still believe that this world behind the camera is reality, and if others let him have it, then that must mean it’s acceptable to have, right? 

Benny’s Video attempts to distinguish the adolescent development that occurs when embracing or rejecting fiction as we are exposed to it. Its opening catches you off-guard as most of Haneke’s tend to do, and from there on out it performs its slow-burn of a drainer, sucking the living life out of our daily obsession for this “third and fourth eye.” Haneke has executed stories like this significantly better before with more level-headed logic behind them, take The Seventh Continent for example, but it’s sure-fire that Benny’s Video is still another solid and thought-provoking project in this filmmaker’s canon. 

Verdict: B

Disturbance in the Arts (Ranked List)

“Benny’s Video” is now available to stream on The Criterion Channel.

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