IMDb > Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream That One Calls Human Life (1995)

Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream That One Calls Human Life (1995) More at IMDbPro »Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream People Call Human Life (original title)

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Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream That One Calls Human Life -- Open-ended Trailer from Zeitgeist


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Release Date:
23 August 1996 (USA) See more »
Jakob arrives at the Institute Benjamenta (run by brother and sister Johannes and Lisa Benjamenta) to learn to become a servant... See more » | Add synopsis »
4 wins & 3 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Unfolds like a dream… but does it mean anything? See more (22 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Mark Rylance ... Jakob

Alice Krige ... Lisa Benjamenta

Gottfried John ... Herr Benjamenta
Daniel Smith ... Kraus
Joseph Alessi ... Pepino
Jonathan Stone ... Hebling
César Sarachu ... Inigo (as Cesar Sarachu)
Peter Lovstrom ... Jorgenson
Uri Roodner ... Schilinski
Peter Whitfield ... Null

Directed by
Stephen Quay 
Timothy Quay 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Alan Passes 
Stephen Quay 
Timothy Quay 
Robert Walser  novel "Jakob von Gunten"

Produced by
Karl Baumgartner .... producer
Keith Griffiths .... producer
Janine Marmot .... producer
Katsue Tomiyama .... producer
Original Music by
Lech Jankowski 
Cinematography by
Nicholas D. Knowland 
Film Editing by
Larry Sider 
Casting by
Irene Lamb 
Production Design by
Jennifer Kernke 
Art Direction by
Alison Riva 
Costume Design by
Nicky Gillbrand 
Makeup Department
Caroline Clements .... makeup artist
Suzie Zamit .... makeup artist
Production Management
Gina Carter .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Finn McGrath .... second assistant director
Jez Murrell .... third assistant director
Mary Soan .... first assistant director
Art Department
Tom Burton .... assistant art director
Paul Cutler .... property master
Cathy Ryan .... scenic artist
Joanna Tyler .... art assistant
Vanda Vivian .... property buyer
Sound Department
Richard Finney .... sound maintenance (as Richie Finney)
Peter Glossop .... production sound mixer
Diane Greaves .... foley artist
Colin Martin .... dubbing mixer
Larry Sider .... sound
Matt Skilton .... foley recordist
Jack Stew .... foley artist
Richard Spooner .... sound assistant (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Dave Crownshaw .... special effects technician
Camera and Electrical Department
Glyn Fielding .... grip
Jill Furmanovsky .... still photographer
Alessandra Scherillo .... focus puller
David Smith .... gaffer
Tiffany Walker .... clapper loader
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Zeb Ibrahim .... costume assistant
Editorial Department
Emily Lincoln .... assistant editor
Other crew
Nuala Alen-Buckley .... production accountant
Hilary Benson .... production coordinator
Kim Brandstrup .... choreographer
Andy Hennigan .... production accountant
Jason Hocking .... assistant to producers
Diane Taylor .... continuity

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream People Call Human Life" - UK (original title)
See more »
104 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.66 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Lisa Benjamenta:I am dying from the emptiness of cautious and clever people.See more »
Movie Connections:
Featured in Celluloid Dreams (2002)See more »


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15 out of 21 people found the following review useful.
Unfolds like a dream… but does it mean anything?, 7 April 2002
Author: AdFin from UK

Not for all tastes, Institute Benjamenta is like David Lynch's The Elephant Man via the works of Bergman and silent expressionism. Every single frame in the bizarre odyssey is tightly composed and beautifully printed in black and white. The use of shifts in focus and depth, and the wild juxtapositions of the most mundane actions, allowing them to take on any number of connotations only heightens the floating dream like atmosphere, as we are dumped into this world with no idea of what is going on, or what is going to happen. But this film is terribly slow (this is were the Bergman element comes into play), and it's a test of the viewer's concentration to see the film through. But unlike Bergman, Institute Benjamenta does not pay off at the end, nor does it leave the viewer puzzled, conflicted and desperate to experience the film again (ala Persona).

Instead Institute Benjamenta just ends, and personally I have no desire to watch the film again, I felt I got everything I could and wanted to gain from the experience. The acting was good, suitably distant and with the right level of cold detachment, but there was a constant feeling the actors were plating second fiddle to the sumptuous visuals put on show by the famed animators the brothers Quay. It's sad that they have yet to make another live action film, as the wealth of great ideas and knowledge of film-making displayed in Institute Benjamenta is one-hundred times better than most of the recent films I've seen, if the Brothers had put a little more time into the depth of the narrative, they could have backed up those haunting images with some much needed substance.

This is not a film for everyone, as I have already stated. The nonsensical narrative and bursts of surrealism will undoubtedly put off some viewers, but this is a film that should have a wider audience. In a cinematic world of conventions and formulas the brothers Quay made a film that, although by no means great, showed originality and definite promise, that makes Institute Benjamenta a film worthy of cult classic status.

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