7.3/10
1,530
24 user 34 critic

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

Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream People Call Human Life (original title)
Trailer
1:22 | Trailer

Watch Now

With Prime Video

ALL
A young man goes to a school for servants run by a brother and sister. In the dreamlike and surreal world that he enters, how will his presence impact the people there and possibly even the school itself?
Reviews
4 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Drama | Fantasy | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Dark fairy-tale about a demonic doctor who abducts a beautiful opera singer with designs on transforming her into a mechanical nightingale.

Directors: Stephen Quay, Timothy Quay
Stars: Amira Casar, Gottfried John, Assumpta Serna
Animation | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Inside a box full of curio, a puppet who is recently freed from his strings explores a dusty and forlorn commercial area. The explorer becomes ensnared into miniature tailor shop by baby-faced dolls.

Directors: Stephen Quay, Timothy Quay
Stars: Feliks Stawinski
In Absentia (2000)
Short | Animation
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A woman sits alone on a chair at a table in a room on one of the top floors of an asylum. Bright spot lights dot the night, sometimes shining on her window. She sharpens pencils and writes ... See full summary »

Directors: Stephen Quay, Timothy Quay
Stars: Marlene Kaminsky
The Comb (1991)
Short | Animation
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A porcelain doll and a sleeping woman. How will they interact through her dreams?

Directors: Stephen Quay, Timothy Quay
Stars: Joy Constaninides, Witold Scheybal
Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

An enigmatic story told in seven chapters, each introduced by an elliptical sentence on a title card. A man is in an apartment. He goes outside where a red tram runs beside a cathedral. He ... See full summary »

Directors: Stephen Quay, Timothy Quay
Maska (2010)
Short | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Maska is the latest animated film of Quay brothers, directors and puppet animators, with the music composed by Krzysztof Penderecki. The screenplay is the adaptation of Stanislaw Lem's ... See full summary »

Directors: Stephen Quay, Timothy Quay
Stars: Magdalena Cielecka
Animation | Short | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Loosely based on the Mesopotamian "Epic of Gilgamesh", here Gilgamesh is portrayed as a grotesque, Picasso-esque being who uses a tricycle to patrol his box-shaped kingdom that hovers above a dark abyss.

Directors: Keith Griffiths, Stephen Quay, and 1 more credit »
Directors: Stephen Quay, Timothy Quay
Stars: Billy Ray Gallion, Stephen Quay
Animation | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Directors: Stephen Quay, Timothy Quay
Animation | Comedy | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

The film uses a mix of cut-out animation from photographs and live-action segments, and tells the story of a married man who lives a double life in his dreams, where he is married to another woman.

Director: Jan Svankmajer
Stars: Václav Helsus, Klára Issová, Zuzana Krónerová
Animation | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Oscillating hands each hold a pen; a man made of wire has a malevolent look and an oscillating eye as he pokes at a bump on his forehead

Directors: Stephen Quay, Timothy Quay
Animation | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A handmade stop-motion fairy tale for adults that tells the tale of the struggle between the aristocratic White Mice and the rustic Creatures Who Dwell Under the Oak over the doll of their heart's desire.

Director: Christiane Cegavske
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
Mark Rylance ... Jakob
Alice Krige ... Lisa Benjamenta
Gottfried John ... Herr Benjamenta
Daniel Smith Daniel Smith ... Kraus
Joseph Alessi Joseph Alessi ... Pepino
Jonathan Stone Jonathan Stone ... Hebling
César Sarachu César Sarachu ... Inigo (as Cesar Sarachu)
Peter Lovstrom ... Jorgenson
Uri Roodner Uri Roodner ... Schilinski
Peter Whitfield Peter Whitfield ... Null
Edit

Storyline

Jakob arrives at the Institute Benjamenta (run by brother and sister Johannes and Lisa Benjamenta) to learn to become a servant. With seven other men, he studies under Lisa: absurd lessons of movement, drawing circles, and servility. He asks for a better room. No other students arrive and none leave for employment. Johannes is unhappy, imperious, and detached from the school's operation. Lisa is beautiful, at first tightly controlled, then on the verge of breakdown. There's a whiff of incest. Jakob is drawn to Lisa, and perhaps she to him. As winter sets in, she becomes catatonic. Things get worse; Johannes notes that all this has happened since Jakob came. Is there any cause and effect? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Animation | Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

UK | Japan | Germany

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

23 August 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream That One Calls Human Life See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Quotes

Jakob: I shall never let myself be rescued, nor shall I ever rescue anybody.
See more »

Connections

Version of Jakob von Gunten (1971) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
A unique experience, a work of exceeding beauty
27 January 1999 | by Milo JeromeSee all my reviews

Institute Benjamenta is an oddity. Let me say that first, get it out of the way. Part of me hesitates from revealing here that it is one of my favourite films of all time because I know I'll make some people reading this mini-review approach it from the wrong angle. A film like this should never become required viewing. You should stumble across it at a repertory cinema somewhere or be beguiled by the video-box art showing the striking visage of Alice Krige as she paces before her blackboard, deerfoot staff in hand. You should find one evening that its the only thing that sounds interesting on TV, or peer at a still alongside a mention in your TV guide and wonder what on earth the picture is supposed to depict. Contained between main and end credits here is a world so visually ravishing and technically abstruse that you are only in the film while you are watching; the rules of the outside do not apply. You peer into the dreamy, foggy black-and-white and what you can't identify for certain your imagination fills out. These are the most special special effects because you wonder 'what' and 'why' by never 'how.' The Institute of the title is a school for servants, the lessons they are taught bizarre and repetitive to the point of making 'deja-vu' a permanent state of being. Is the repetition the point of it all or has the teacher lost the plot? If she has, how come we care? None of this is vaguely like real life. None of it, that is, bar the characters emotions. Or is the whole thing like real life, like Life with a capital 'L?' In the end does this sort of pondering make for a good movie? I won't answer that because I'm terribly biased. Remember the title and look it up sometime. It's the cinematic equivalent of a stunning old-fashioned magician's trick. A monochrome bouquet, a sad smile. There are images, scenes that may make the hairs on the back of your neck think they're a cornfield with a twister on the way. I tried to warn you as quietly as I could.


39 of 43 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 24 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed