Media Literacy through Funny Games (Michael Haneke, 1997)

  • Haneke’s Funny Games starts with an aerial shot of the Schlober family driving home. What is the significance of the soundtrack (classical & heavy metal) and the guessing game Anna and George play in these early moments of the film?
  • What means does Haneke use in order to create a sense of claustrophobia in the film?
  • What could the killer’s white gloves represent in the film?
  • Comment on Haneke’s pereference for the off-screen depiction of Georgie’s murder.
  • Following Georgie’s murder scene, why do you think Haneke prefers to use a stationary camera? What effect could this create on you/the viewer? What could Haneke be encouraging his viewers to do here? What message(s) could he be conveying about cinema and spectatorship?
  • Right after Georgie’s murder scene, Haneke puts his protagonists at a distance. Why? What message could he be giving to his viewers?
  • In what ways could Funny Games be regarded as a critique of mass media?
  • What could the killers represent in the film? Does Haneke provide in-depth information about them and their motivation? Why? Why not? Why are they called Beavis and Butt-Head? Why do they wink at the audience and address them very often in film? Answer these questions in light of the following quotes from the film: “What do you think? Don’t you want a full-length movie, with plausible plot developments?” “But we are not up to feature length yet.” “Why don’t you kill us right away”, “Don’t forget the entertainment value. We’d all be deprived of pleasure”.
  • What could the opening moments of the film and the whole film suggest about social class?
  • Did you ever feel like you wanted to stop watching the film? Why? Why not?
  • Why do you think Haneke avoids providing his audience with any sense of resolution at the end of the film?

© Ali Nihat Eken, Istanbul, June 2008
Relevant link: Media Literacy through Michael Haneke’s Cache (2005)

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