Why did Haneke redesign Funny Games

Watching should always be a kind of threat, at least for the German-Austrian film author Michael Haneke. So already comes in the first pictures of this expectant vacation trip

Watching should always be a kind of threat, at least for the German-Austrian film author Michael Haneke. So there is already some irritation in the first pictures of this expectant vacation trip. From a bird's eye view, the camera follows a car with a boat trailer on a winding road. Mother, father, child and dog sit in the car. On the way to the holiday idyll you can hear classical music from the CD player. Even in the next shot, the cars, viewed from above, appear strangely colorful and shadowy - hyper-realistic like small moving targets in a video game. This brings back memories of the opening sequence of Kubrick's “The Shining” - and a first bad premonition.

This is how it is with Michael Haneke: Every cinema-goer sees what he knows. The horror that is looming is therefore also self-inflicted. In this case, the thesis is also the driving force behind an entire cinematic oeuvre. The fact that Haneke is now duplicating an American version of his German film from 1997 can only be understood in this context. “Funny Games” (starring the brilliant couple of actors Susanne Lothar and Ulrich Mühe) caused a scandal at its premiere in Cannes. The creator of psychodramas such as “Benny's Video” (1991) or doom scenarios such as “Le temps du loup” (2004) categorically explains his story about two young, outwardly good men who torment a nuclear family to death, both mentally and physically, as categorical Lesson.

Mainstream immorality

For once, the immorality of mainstream cinema should not be declined for the media-critical audience, but for the dumb - again according to Haneke: American - cinema-goers who don't worry about their questionable consumption of violence. A Haneke film for those familiar with “Die Hard”. However, American or not, they should also shy away from Haneke's recent cinematic treatise like the devil shy away from holy water. Not only for this reason, however, the enlightenment furor once again comes to nothing.

The remake is a shot-by-shot version literally staged from the original script. For example, "Funny Games US" in the mainstream version (with Naomi Watts and Tim Roth in the leading roles) shows us the characters are drawn a little softer. But even in the new film, Ann and Georg remain the lovers who are obviously frozen in a friendly routine. And here, too, everyone chases the dog away without even petting it. The animal must then be the first to believe when the strangers appear in the holiday home. Later the child is shot. And so on.

Haneke lets his characters run into ruin in their bourgeois deformation without any break. That is something of a cheap punitive action. The director's first educational attempt already had this stale aftertaste, especially since the perpetrators' sadism was already there without any explanation of social connections. The director justifies his new-old opus with the fact that the original could not have reached the originally intended target audience (i.e. the English-speaking consumer of preferably violent films). The film writer himself does not seem to have learned anything from the discussions about his original film.

It does not convey to us the acts of violence or death (and comparatively little blood), but rather the horror in the faces of the victims and their screams. But the alleged removal of the media consumer from his self-inflicted immaturity remains an assertion in Haneke's renewed attempt, where the view of the victims may be less bloodthirsty, but is by no means less cynical than with the "Natural Born Killers" by Oliver Stone. There is no empathy with the doomed here either, since Haneke delivers the same film to us, not only from a formal point of view, shot after shot.

Suffering in the laboratory test

As absurd as it may sound: Haneke made American cinema here without American cinema, apart from the actors. Haneke is a master of hypothermic analysis. But he now fades this out for the second time without replacing it with the Hollywood principle of empathy. This reverses his formal principle of distancing himself from himself. Because the film may not be bloodthirsty, but it is doubtful that it could not be consumed by the relevant audience as a thriller, since it pre-empts the suffering of the victims like in a laboratory test. So you can put the test to the test here and watch a precision craftsman of European cinema fail, trained by himself through some excellent previous work.