Michael Haneke’s Code Unknown is among my all-time top ten favorite films. Cache and Time of the Wolf are favorites also. But I can’t bring myself to go see Funny Games when it’s getting reviews like these.
Anybody out there want to stand up and defend what Haneke’s trying to do with this film?
Here’s a new interview in Filmmaker, where he describes his intentions a bit. But it doesn’t convince me that I should subject myself to two hours of watching cruel torturers beating the pulp out of a family.
Filmmaker: You were talking before about how this film is about violence in American cinema and how you wanted it to reach an English-speaking audience. So what do you hope the impact will be? And what change do you hope might come about?
Haneke: A film can do nothing, but in the best case it can provoke so that some viewer makes his own thoughts about his own part in this international game of consuming violence, because it’s a big business. [laughs] So maybe one or other [person will ask], “What am I doing when I’m working for this? Why am I working for this?” That’s the top from the possibilities. [laughs] And I’m not a social worker. [laughs]Filmmaker: So in an ideal world…
Haneke: I don’t believe in an ideal world. [laughs]
Filmmaker: I’ll rephrase that then. Would it be preferable for you to see a Hollywood cinema that is much more responsible in regards to violence?
Haneke: Of course. Cinema could be an artform, can be an artform… it’s very rare. If it is art, it is automatically responsible. A film has to be a dialogue, not a monologue — a dialogue to provoke in the viewer his own thoughts, his own feelings. And if a film is a dialogue then it’s a good film; if it’s not a dialogue, it’s a bad film. It’s very easy.