One of the key ways that Michael Haneke ropes viewers into Funny Games, his relentless, provocative psychological thriller about a brutal home invasion, is by regularly breaching the fourth wall. In the 1997 film, two high-spirited young men in tennis whites set their diabolical sights on a well-to-do family, breaking into their country home to torture them for sport—and in the process occasionally pausing the action to talk straight into the camera. The director intended these confidential asides as a method of drawing viewers’ attention to their own complicity in the sadistic “games” on display. In the above clip, taken from a supplement on our new edition of the film, Haneke talks about how the playful direct-to-camera addresses in a very different movie, Tony Richardson’s freewheeling picaresque Tom Jones, inspired his own self-referential strategy for examining violence in mass media—and our insatiable appetite for it.
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The Oscar-winning actor remembers how her heightened political consciousness in the early 1970s led to her initial hesitation to take on the leading role in Alan J. Pakula’s psychological thriller.
Agnieszka Holland’s Ironic Slant on the Unspeakable
The acclaimed Polish director explains how her international breakthrough film, Europa Europa, was inspired by a desire to tell a different, less predictable kind of Holocaust story.