Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Funny Games

I've mostly been looking at examples of how the postmodern prevails in our popular culture and entertainment and it occurred to me that the film "Funny Games" by Micheal Haneke is a postmodern film, and I'll explain why. Oh and there's probably going to be spoilers.

I'm going to talk about the 2007 remake with Naomi Watts, Tim Roth and Michael Pitt, because Haneke himself remade his original 1997 Funny Games (German) shot for shot for American audiences. 
The film, in a nutshell  about a typical family that go to visit their holiday home by the lake and are tortured and then killed by two strange youngsters.

Firstly I believe that the fact that he remade his own film is postmodern as he is taking his a film he made 10 years previously and repackaging it for a new audience, to create a new experience, claiming he did it to reach a wider audience.

The film is a criticism of the horror genre, it aims to make us realise that we enjoy watching gore, horror, torture and other human beings being subjected to general nastiness, by subverting what we expect to see with a hollywood horror film. The film hightlights the fact that as human beings we have a blood-lust and see the horror genre as a form of entertainment.The  killers enforce this throughout the film, saying "Whether by knife or by gun, loosing your life can sometimes be fun."

One of the killers, Paul, (Michael Pitt) seems to be self aware. He is fully aware that he is a character in a film that is for entertainment and is the reason for his actions. He is torturing his victims because he is in a film and his acts of torture or purely to entertain the viewer. This is evident in a scene when Anna (Naomi Watts) says "Why don't you just kills us." and one of the killers slowly replies, "You shouldn't forget the importance of entertainment." Paul then breaks the fourth wall. addresses the audience and says "What do you think? You think they stand a chance? Well, you're on their side aren't you." 

Here's a clip of him breaking the forth wall by looking at the audience with a knowing smile.
Not the clip I wanted to use but I couldn't find any other.

Haneke knows what we expect to see in a horror film and so he manipulates the audience, he leads the viewer to expect something to happen but then subverts it and shocks the audience.
This is evident in the strip scene of the movie because in many hollywood horror films there is a scene where an attractive female character will get naked for some reason or another, and it is usually intended to be sexy. But in Funny Games, its just plain horrible to watch, as it is intended to be. The films leads the audience to expect the strip to be done in a sexy manner, but it is just disturbing and forces you to question your tastes and ideas of horror.
Why do we like watching harm being done to others? ect

Here's the horrible scene for your enjoyment.

Funny Games is a deconstruction, and the above scene especially, of torture porn. The films strips away the rules that we expect from the horror genre and shows us a "truth" of what we are seeing, a "truth" that is different from what we are accumstomed to. With Funny Games Haneke has created a film more horrible to watch than any of the gorey pornographic films that he criticises.

I didn't intend this to read like a sort of film review.

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The word ‘post’ in postmodernism suggests that it comes after modernism, however both postmodernism and modernism both exist together at the same time. Modernism seeks to give meaning and solid definitions to what things are while postmodernism denies the rules laid by modernism.
Postmodernism denies the existance of scientifc, philosophical or religious truths to explain everything for everybody, while modernism seeks to give meaning and solid definitions to what things are while postmodernism denies the rules laid by modernism. It allows for personal interpretation, with personal experience being placed above abstract principles which paradoxically means that postmodernism can not truly be defined.
Postmodernism spans various different disciplines including art, culture, architecture, literature, entertainment, technology ect, and focuses on de-structered humanity meaning that disorder and fragmentation are acceptable represention of reality for postmodernists. Modernists viewed this view of fragmented humanity as bad while postmodernists seems to celebrate this, accepting ambiguity.
There are no final truths or definitions in postmodernism, it is an attempt to give new meanings and interpretations to everything.
Throughout the coming weeks we are going to explore how postmodernism is evident in various different aspects in our society in an attempt to better understand what postmodernism is and how it affects our lives. We will be looking at examples of postmodernism in pop-culture and entertainment, feminism, architecture, and art and design movements.