21 August 2014 | OJT
What would you do after such a random act of senseless violence?
One of Mikael Haneke's first feature films makes a great impact on the viewer. I'm writing this after seeing this film for thew second time, 21 years after watching it in a cinema, in a film club setting. Back then we didn't know how many extraordinary films Haneke would be making later on. In that setting, I must say this showed promise of a controversial director with an important message in his films. Haneke wants to make discussions, and don't really care if he is controversial or even disgust people watching his films.
Benny is a loner of a 14 year old boy, using so much time in his own room watching violent videos as well as making his own videos with his Video8 camera. His parents are rich, but largely absent from his upbringing, but are more hands on than normal, when they are at home. During a trip to the video store Benny meets a girl of his own age, and invites her home, to show her a video h has made about a pig being shot with a slaughter gun. He shows her the gun he has stolen, and from there the story turns severe.
It's not really possible to give a review of this film without telling too much. Still there's no point in spilling the beans. The film has more than one surprise up in the sleeve, and is well suited for discussions in a group or a media class. I can assure you that the viewers will have different views on what they make of this movie. Why is Benny doing this? Is this likely or even at all realistic? Why do they do the things they do? Whta would you have done in the same situation? Who's to blame? Does it provoke you? Are we watching a sociopath in the making? Why did Haneke make this film?
As always in Haneke's films, the actors are brilliant in their play, though it's easy to criticize the ideas if you don't like them. Arno Frisch is brilliantly portraying young Benny, as a boy who has lost his way due to some reason or another.
After viewing this film the first time, back in 1993, we had one of the greatest discussions I ever experienced after a film. We always went to a café side-by-side to the cinema after the film club showings, and this film made us having a major discussion. So I never forgot this film, and Haneke, or Austrian films for that matter. I must say this film made an immensely impact on me due to this. Watching it again so many years later, reminds me of what I really remember of the film, which is almost half. When you remember so much of it, it's no doubt a great film. Not flawless, but important as well as remarkable.
This can't be recommended to the faint hearted, nor due to the content, the violence or the moral. You'll better stay away if you are easily disgusted or offended.