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2012 Master's Level Graduate Research Conference

Session I - Session II - Session III - Session IV

The Scene and the Un-scene: An Examination of Michael Haneke's 'Funny Games' and 'White Ribbon'

This paper is an examination of the uses of off screen violence in the two most recent films of Austrian born director, Michael Haneke, the American version of "Funny Games" and the Academy Awarding winning "White Ribbon". From a clinical directorial style, Michael Haneke proposes a critique on the inhumanity of modern society, often with deconstructions and a skewing of the psychology of a traditional filmic narrative.This subversion often comes in the guise of the everyday object or occurrences. Through a discussion about how Haneke uses excessive violence, one can see how he seeks to manipulate the audience. What does his violent imagery say to and about the spectator? This visualization of brutality, both physical and psychological, is done in service of a greater examination into the issues of contemporary society, such as violence in the media, as well as the spectators own pleasure for malice. Haneke’s character’s are often impersonal representations of an idea or sector of society. As Robert Dassanowsky states in Austrian Cinema: a History, “Haneke suggests that the film is not populated by characters but by surface representations of the ‘fears, desires, and fantasies of the spectators’”. This deviation from realism is aimed toward developing an archetypal representation. This study dissects each films narrative structure to best illustrate the idea of attaining pleasure in violence, both within the film's characters and in the audience.

Presenter: Lacy Ellinwood (University of Buffalo) --
Topic: English/Humanities - Panel
Location: 216 Hartwell
Time: 3:35 pm (Session IV)