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Funny Games (1997)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Thriller | 11 March 1998 (USA)
Two violent young men take a mother, father, and son hostage in their vacation cabin and force them to play sadistic "games" with one another for their own amusement.

Director:

Michael Haneke

Writer:

Michael Haneke
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Popularity
2,871 ( 196)
5 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Susanne Lothar ... Anna
Ulrich Mühe ... Georg
Arno Frisch ... Paul
Frank Giering ... Peter
Stefan Clapczynski ... Schorschi
Doris Kunstmann ... Gerda
Christoph Bantzer Christoph Bantzer ... Fred
Wolfgang Glück Wolfgang Glück ... Robert
Susanne Meneghel Susanne Meneghel ... Gerdas Schwester
Monika von Zallinger Monika von Zallinger ... Eva (as Monika Zallinger)
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Storyline

Two seemingly well-educated young men, who call each other Paul and Peter among other names, approach a family on vacation. They are, apparently, friends of the neighbors, and, at the beginning, their true intentions are not known, but soon, the family is imprisoned and tortured in its own house violently, which the viewers are forced mostly to imagine and to share a certain complicity with the criminals. It might be some kind of game with the lives of husband, wife, son, and dog, but why are they doing it? Written by Luis Canau <luis.canau@mail.EUnet.pt>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Schockierend wie "Clockwork Orange", kontrovers wie "Natural Born Killers" See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the list of "1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Goofs

While launching the sailboat, the son is seen (from a distance) wearing a swimsuit. Next, at the dock - and still in the boat - he is fully clothed. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[subtitled version]
Anna: Björling... Suliotis?
Georg: Almost. Björling is easy.
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Connections

Referenced in The Making of 'Alien³' (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Hellraiser
Composed by John Zorn
Performed by Naked City (Grand Guignol)
Published by Union Jasroc
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User Reviews

 
Suffering? You ain't seen nothing yet...
17 June 2008 | by Jonny_NumbSee all my reviews

I watched this year's remake of "Funny Games" prior to the original, simply because its sick-with-irony trailer got me extremely curious. Granted, this goes against my usual process of viewing a remake's precursor prior to the remake itself, but I couldn't help myself. By the end, I was astonished by writer-director Michael Haneke's audacity in telling a macabre home-invasion story devoid of Hollywood glamour, humor, and mercy–remake or no, it's still one of the ballsiest exercises in visceral, reality-based horror ever released by a major studio.

So, when I decided to give the original "Funny Games" a spin (mere days after my viewing of American version), I was filled with presupposition toward how much I would appreciate the original (with the twists of Haneke's shot-for-shot remake still mapped out in my mind)–similar to a sadistic "bet" our captors make with their prey, I was wondering if this earlier, German-language version would survive on its own terms. And, while each version is practically identical (save for some subtle nuances in the performances, the slightly varied location design, and–of course–the spoken language), both quite miraculously carry the same visceral, jaw-dropping sucker-punches as the other. Unlike the much-derided American remakes of "The Vanishing" and "Les Diaboliques," Haneke sees no need to let either culture off the hook, especially when each has its own prominent history of violence, on- and off-camera.

Ironically, the references to metalhead couch potatoes Beavis and Butt-Head probably seemed like an incendiary bitch-slap to the passive glamorization of American filmed violence in the 1997 version, but there is an even stronger sense of irony when the MTV-hosted duo are referenced in the remake–on the shores that birthed them, and the cult following of Generation Y-ers that has accumulated in the years since the show's cancellation (a sure sign that our passivity, if anything, is more pronounced now). It's subtle observations like this that give both versions of "Funny Games" an added resonance.

If anything takes some getting used to in the 1997 film, it's the general unfamiliarity of the cast. After seeing a collection of familiar performers run through Haneke's horrifying 2008 experiment, the German cast begins with a studied approach to the performances that eventually loosens into hysteria and desperation that is just as convincing as their remake counterparts. It is truly stunning how Haneke mines the same static framing and intense performances to ends that are equally effective in both films (even knowing the outcome of a protracted long take following a pivotal off-screen event, I found the experience just as emotionally agonizing to witness).

While it may seem hypocritical to "side" with Haneke (at least in the context his film creates), especially when I patronize (and am prone to enjoying) films that frequently downplay the reality of human suffering, the effect in both versions of "Funny Games" is undeniably powerful–these are difficult, ugly, and emotionally draining films crafted with undeniable (and remarkably subtle) purpose. If there's any catharsis to be had from them, it will be in the introspection and assessment of your own attitudes toward violence.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

Austria

Language:

German | French | Italian

Release Date:

11 March 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Funny Games See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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