|Winner of the FIPRESCI award given by the International Federation of Film Critics in 1993, Benny’s Video is the second installment of Michael Haneke’s (The Piano Teacher, Caché) “emotional glaciation” trilogy.|
Written and directed by Haneke, this “bone-chilling” (Stephen Holden, The New York Times) feature film opens with the amateur footage of a pig being slaughtered with a butcher gun. This unceremonious recording is owned by 14-year-old Benny (Arno Frisch; Haneke’s Funny Games), a boy whose preferred mediums of experience are video cameras, action movies, and the surveillance monitors placed in his room.
Accustomed to a trite routine of school activities, daily visits to a local video store, and hours in front of his bedroom TV, Benny finds himself enthralled by his tape of a slaughtered swine. Staying alone in his parents’ apartment, Benny eventually brings home an unknown girl, immediately exposing her to the rapturous videotaping. Then, after revealing that he stole the gun that took the pig’s life, Benny coldly shoots his guest and turns his unwrought curiosity into a slaughter video franchise. “I once saw a TV program about the tricks they use in action films,” says Benny. “It’s all ketchup and plastic.”
By colliding the differences between frames and flesh, “Haneke’s chilling look at post-modernity and voyeurism” (Pauline Kael) is deprived of character psychology and the pathologizing justifications of violence. Instead, Haneke’s sophomore theatrical release offers a lucid depiction of human beings deprived of their capacity to empathize with — and be hurt by — others.
WARNING: This film contains scenes of graphic violence. Viewer discretion is advised.