Benny's Video

"Grim"

Benny's Video Review


It's long been a staple of psychological profiling and often debated furiously, but the assumption that violent movies actually make people violent has some merit. How could it not, to some degree? I can remember very clearly stepping out of Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles in high school and hoping, praying, that someone would try to jump me on the way back to my car so I could get into some sort of kung fu fight. Sure, it would have been geeky, spastic kung fu, and, sure, I would have been beaten senseless, but I was just so pumped up I would've taken on Jet Li. The question isn't does violence inspire violence. The question is: To what extent? Where does that influence end?

We're bombarded almost daily with disturbing news snippets about teens run amok, filming their attacks gloatingly and enjoying them at parties. Forget Girls Gone Wild, nowadays it's Teens Gone Wilding. Is this the end result of a violent movie culture? Bad parenting? Terrible genetics? All of the above? If I watched Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles enough times (I know, I know, it's a PG movie with puppets, but still...) would I be transformed into the sociopathic killer at the heart of Michael Haneke's Benny's Video?

Haneke, the incredibly gifted filmmaker who wowed audiences with The Piano Teacher and Caché, might say yes. And while it isn't surprising that Haneke condemns Hollywood and horror movies for dulling the sense of children who watch violent movies, the casual, almost hackneyed, mode in which he makes his argument is.

Benny's Video is the second film in Haneke's "Glaciation Trilogy", so called for the "emotional glaciation" of humanity explored in the films. (The first is The Seventh Continent (1989).) The film follows the slow but inevitable trajectory of violence in the life of Benny (Arno Frisch), an alienated but bright kid obsessed with violent images. He watches gory horror films in his bedroom, left to his own devices by parents who pride themselves on making sure he has his freedom. Benny's most prized clip is the slaughter of a pig that he filmed himself. Benny watches it repeatedly, playing it in slow motion, studying the pixels of violent death. He meets a girl at the local video store and invites her back to his place and shows her some of his films including the pig killing. He shows her the weapon used to kill the pig (he's smuggled it home) and then, with the camera trained on the girl, he kills her. Without any emotional response, Benny watches the murder of the girl repetitively, robotically. His parents then fret about how to cover it up.

The message here is simple and the moral couldn't be any plainer. And that's the problem with Benny's Video. For Haneke no explanation is needed, Benny has been turned into a sociopath by his consumption of violent images and his parent's non-disciplinary approach to rearing him. It's black and white. The audience cannot come to any other conclusion. Haneke has decided for us. Fittingly, we are also never given insight into Benny. He remains a machine, remote and inert. And in the end, with a character that repellent and a message so heavy handed, there is no need to commit ourselves to this bitter, merciless film.



Benny's Video

Facts and Figures

Run time: 105 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 11th February 1993

Production compaines: Wega Film

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 33%
Fresh: 2 Rotten: 4

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Bernard Lang

Starring: as Benny, as Mutter, as Vater, Ingrid Stassner as Mädchen


Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

45 Years Movie Review

45 Years Movie Review

Like an antidote to vacuous blockbusters, this intelligent, thoughtful drama packs more intensity into a...

Straight Outta Compton Movie Review

Straight Outta Compton Movie Review

This biopic gallops through the career of groundbreaking gangsta rappers N.W.A, working its way through...

We Are Your Friends Movie Review

We Are Your Friends Movie Review

Basically the perfect summer movie, this lightweight drama has a great-looking cast and plenty of...

Sinister 2 Movie Review

Sinister 2 Movie Review

As the ghoul from the 2012 horror hit stalks a new family, this sequel's sharply...

Advertisement
Paper Towns Movie Review

Paper Towns Movie Review

After setting the scene with vivid characters and some insightful interaction, the plot of this...

Vacation Movie Review

Vacation Movie Review

Both the characters and the tone have been updated as a new generation of Grizwolds...

Trainwreck Movie Review

Trainwreck Movie Review

Amy Schumer makes her big screen debut with a script that feels like a much-extended...

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Movie Review

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Movie Review

Adopting a deliciously groovy vibe, Guy Ritchie turns the iconic 1960s TV spy series into...

Advertisement