Funny Games

DVD Rating: **

Reviewed by: Anton Bitel

Read Paul Griffiths's film review of Funny Games
Funny Games

Writer/director Michael Haneke gives a substantial (37-minute) interview (in German, with subtitles) on the remake and filmmaking in general. He is a controversial figure, lionised by some for his unapologetic intellectualism, reviled by others for his hectoring arrogance – and this feature may well serve to support both these points of view, reflecting the sort of tensions and ambiguities that characterise much of his work.

Haneke rattles out the now familiar arguments for agreeing to do the English-language remake (the 1997 original did not reach "the audience it was conceived for") and for his decision to do a shot-for-shot recreation of the original ("I had nothing to add to what I had already said"). One wonders whether, now that the remake has proven such a financial flop Stateside, he might, with hindsight, have preferred the cheaper option of just re-dubbing the original into English – although Haneke, of course, insists throughout that he has little interest in money or profits. No doubt Tartan, who part-financed the project (and who have since gone into administration) would disagree...

Copy picture

Haneke states he agreed to do the remake on two conditions: that Naomi Watts be in the film, and that he get final cut. The latter ensures that as far as Haneke is concerned, "this is as much an auteur's film as the first one." Nonetheless, he complains of the huge crew of 130 with whom he worked in the US: "you wonder what they do – maybe five actually work". A bit harsh, perhaps, given that he himself acknowledges his own rigorously demanding standards on set as well as the "technical challenge" of making the new film, with its all-new locations, look exactly the same as the old one.

At one point Haneke laughs at the way trailers can misrepresent a film – and the four teaser trailers present on this disc provide a good, concrete example of what he means. Each one comprises essentially the same footage from the feature itself, but repackages it differently, with the fourth in particular (The Users Guide to Home Invasion) making Funny Games seem like little more than a wacky black comedy. Then again, maybe that's exactly what Funny Games is after all – depending, of course, on which character's perspective the viewer chooses to champion in the sadomasochistic game-playing of the slasher genre.

Reviewed on: 25 Jul 2008
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Funny Games packshot
English language remake of the ice-cold horror about a family held hostage by a pair of preppy youngsters. Plus read our with producer Chris Coen.
Amazon link

Product Code: TVD3859

Region: 2

Ratio: 16:9

Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1, DTS Surround 5.1

Extras: Interview with writer/director Michael Haneke, viral trailers

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