Discussion Questions for Benny’s Video (Michael Haneke, 1992)
Discuss the significance of the opening sequence of the film where we see the slaughter of a pig: What does the opening sequence reveal about the story? What kind of a camera is used and why? Why is there a zoom? What is the significance of the pause and the rewind? What do you hear in the background? How do you react to what you see and hear? What color is the title written in and why? What does the opening sequence tell you about how media texts work and the spectators in general?
Describe Benny’s room in detail (e.g. What is the significance of the monitor that shows the street?). Then discuss what the description could tell you about Benny, his world and the contemporary world.
Describe the flat Benny and his parents live in. What does the description reveal about the relationship between Benny and his parents?
Identify the ways in which Benny and his parents communicate with each other.
Comment on how nuclear family is represented in the film in relation to Benny and the young girl whom Benny meets outside the video store.
What mainly motivates Benny’s parents to cover up the slaughter of the girl in the story?
Identify the settings in the film to comment on the portrayal of urban space. For example, why do we see Benny on the escalators so often?
Why does Benny kill the girl? Why does he rewind the video tape many times after he kills the girl instead of hiding the corpse?
Why does Benny sit naked after he kills the girl?
There are times in the film when we feel confused about whether we are watching the film Benny’s Video or the video Benny has shot? Why do we get confused? What is the significance of such a state of mind?
How does the film portray reality?
What statement does the film make about the contemporary world?
© Ali Nihat Eken, Istanbul, December 2008