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on 17 February 2010
The second of Haneke's blued out so called 'emotional glaciation' films, Benny's Video explores the emotional detachment of Benny a spoiled Austrian teen isolated from the family and society he finds himself further and further detached from.

Watching the world through television, Benny, even though living above the city with fantastic views draws his blinds and chooses to observe the city through rooftop CCTV. His connection with the world comes from News, television and through violent video. One video in particular, a home made shot of his family stun-gunning a pig for slaughter is viewed over and over again by Benny, often rewinding the video so that the death shot can be replayed in slow motion.

Benny's interactions in the film are awkward and he doesn't speak to his parents. A typical teen you may think. Benny upon returning to a video store which he visits regularly notices a girl at the window, who he has seen before. He awkwardly tries to communicate with the girl and they end up back at his house where Benny's behaviour and actions seem even more awkward and unusual. Benny shows the girl the video of the pig slaughter and then shows that he stole the stun gun. A clumsy moment apparently of idiocy sees Benny fire the weapon at the girl which then results in her death.

The film centres around Benny's character reactions and of his family's reaction to the death of the girl. The film is less about the murder and more about responsibility, communication and poses many, many questions about morality, family bonds, loyalty and of course Haneke's favourite, our role, the viewer and our blind acceptance of violence in the media and our gluttonous consumption of said violence and the consequences of what I would call our nonchalant attitude at what we largely see as something benign or distant.

Criticised in many reviews of both Benny's Video and Funny Games for double standards for using extreme violence whilst sermonizing us for 'wanting it' I feel many critics miss the point. Haneke chooses to shock by breaking certain traditional rules which distance us from the violence. In most Hollywood cinema, the violence is sexed up and made appealing, with fantastic scores and humour thrown in. Haneke presents the violence a little more honestly although he admits himself that if Hollywood makes violence sexy, he goes to the opposite extreme and if truth be told the effects are emotionally quite chilling albeit in Benny's Video you never actually see the violent act, it's referred to and you hear it.

No soundtrack, no gore, no 'sexing up' the director doesn't even move his camera - the director is detached from the violence himself which leaves us undisturbed by music, special effects, gore etc and instead we are left all alone to confront it. Haneke does not treat his audience like idiots and realises that the mind is powerful and by not showing the violence, the film is opened up to certain questions and we are left to imagine the violence which can be very powerful.

I feel that Benny's Video is one of the best character studies of the isolated youth that there's been in some time.
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This review may contain spoilers:

The world though Benny's video camera is a disjointed, skewed and dangerous one. Played back through his VCR, along with the countless video nasties he seems to be able to rent without his age (14) being questioned from his local video rental store, that distortion is multiplied indefinitely.

At times, this film is repulsive and sickening, as we start with a pig that the family want to slaughter for meat is filmed having a bolt shot through its head. "It's only a pig", Benny says, as he rewinds, again and again and repeats the animal's death and subsequent squirming in slo-mo.

His parents are involved in the travel business and go away whilst Benny stays at home with all his high-tech gizmos, all that his parents had bought for him, presumably to make him happy. Getting a girl into this ivory tower of his, he plays her the pig vid and then shows the instrument used on the animal that he had stolen for a souvenir. In a game of dare, she gets shot with it and this is where it all goes horribly strange and ugly. Most folks - all folks, actually - would phone for an ambulance. He doesn't, he re-loads it with bolts and does so again and again. We see a TV with this being filmed, with only the periphery showing. He then films himself streaking her blood on his naked body.

I hope that this hasn't spoiled things too much but the main thrust of the film is the aftermath of all this. Parents come home, Benny gets a skinhead haircut and then replays the vids of the "accident" over and again, just when the parents are going past the open door of his room.

What we make of Haneke's matter of fact portrayal of the parents colluding to and discussing what to do with her body is one of open debate. Their emotionless disdain for what has happened appals, and so it should. Benny and his mother then go on holiday to the Red Sea, where Benny films everything.

The films pans out to its end matter-of-factly with the family going off to bury the girl's body and Haneke makes a bold and sweeping statement simply by having us watching them through the bank of monitors that show what all the surveillance cameras dotted about the house show.

Though Benny's Video was made exactly 20 years ago, it still is as important and pertinent now as it was then. Uncompromising and powerful, if largely unlikeable.

I watched this as part of the Michael Haneke 10 DVD anthology.
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on 23 April 2012
As with most of Haneke's brilliant work, the viewer is transported right inside the world of the characters, which is a very dark place in this case.

This is always a thought provoking and highly entertaining experience and in the case of Benny's Video quite overwhelming at times.

The difficult viewing is well worth it though because events like this do happen in the real world and it is interesting to consider what you would do if you found yourself in some way involved in a similar situation.

Perhaps that is always Haneke's intention - to hold a mirror up for us to peer into - regardless of whether or not we like what we see.
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on 1 August 2012
Bennys video is a very disturbing film about a teenager who becomes desensitised by scenes of horror from watching too many horrific videos. It portrays a pig being slaughtered which is particularly gruesome and sickening to watch, but the real sickening part is when he invites a beautiful teenage girl to his apartment only to film himself executing her with the same gun used to slaughter the pig and then proceedss to dispose of the body in a callous uncaring manner - totally disgusting subject matter and only the sick and perverse would want to watch this filth.
I have since destroyed my copy of this film - it was so disgusting!
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on 29 September 2015
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on 29 October 2014
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on 4 February 2009
I bought this after watching several Michael Haneke films and found it a bit strange.The leading actor gives a good performance but the films a tad bland.It reminded me of so many other films about "lonely people that turn out to be odd".Not his best effort by a long shot
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