How to Implicate an Audience

Inside Criterion / Sneak Peeks — May 16, 2019


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.