In the American remake of Funny Games, and presumably in the original as well, it is postulated at the end that the observation of fictional violence is just as real as observing real life violence. What is the difference between watching a man viciously whacked with a golf club, having his leg broken, in real life and watching it in a movie? The immediate context. We are able to forgive what we see on the screen but unable to do so if there were no screen separating us from the action. Torture films, or torture porn as some people like to call them, have grown increasingly popular since the release of the first Saw film. Truth be told, what do we get out of viewing such cinema?
I think that the films unintentionally give viewers the ability to identify with the torturers. The victims in these movies are sympathetic to a degree because they are being slaughtered, but there’s a logical disconnect present as a viewer because we’re on the other side of the screen. They are our victims as well. While we’re not perpetuating the acts of violence, we’re there because that’s what we expect to see. It does not say many positive things about us.
Funny Games intends to make its audience ask themselves what it means to be an observer of this fictional violence, but it fails to make any sort of point. The postulate about the role of the observer is only briefly mentioned at the end, almost as a throwaway. If one wants to analyze the film, it’s there. If not, the film is as guilty as any other film for putting its audience in such a position.
Not to say the film is bad. It is not for everyone. It is tense but also kind of empty in how it’s filmed. Surprisingly, there are few scenes of direct violence and none of gore. There is blood only in one scene, the aftermath of off-screen violence. Even so, the violence throughout the film is directed at a woman, a child, a dog, and even a crippled man (although they did cripple him). Steer clear if you are someone who has not developed that disconnect between real emotions and acts on screen. Or…you might be for whom the movie as actually intended. I can’t tell anymore.
Bechdel Rule: Pass. I had to double check this one, but there was an actual in-person conversation between the female lead and another woman. While the husbands were briefly mentioned, the conversation was basically as pointless as all other conversations in the film. Regardless, it passes.