Home Page  
 
 

SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • French DTS-HD 5.1 Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • New interviews with Michael Haneke and actor Arno Frisch
  • New interview with film historian Alexander Horwath
  • Press conference from the 1997 Cannes Film Festival featuring Michael Haneke and actors Susanne Lothar and Ulrich Mühe
  • Trailer
  • An essay by critic Bilge Ebiri

Funny Games

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Michael Haneke
1997 | 109 Minutes | Licensor: MK2

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #975
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: May 14, 2019
Review Date: May 12, 2019

Purchase From:
amazon.com  amazon.ca

Share:

SYNOPSIS

Michael Haneke’s most notorious provocation, Funny Games spares no detail in its depiction of the agony of a bourgeois family held captive at their vacation home by a pair of white-gloved young men. In a series of escalating “games,” the sadistic duo subject their victims to unspeakable physical and psychological torture over the course of a night. A home-invasion thriller in which the genre’s threat of bloodshed is made stomach-churningly real, the film ratchets up shocks even as its executioners interrupt the action to address the audience, drawing queasy attention to the way that cinema milks pleasure from pain and stokes our appetite for atrocity. With this controversial treatise on violence and entertainment, Haneke issued a summation of his cinematic philosophy, implicating his audience in a spectacle of unbearable cruelty.


PICTURE

The 1997 version of Michael Haneke’s Funny Games enters the Criterion Collection with this new Blu-ray edition, featuring the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on a dual-layer disc. The 1080p/24hz encode has been sourced from a new 2K restoration, scanned from the 35mm original camera negative.

As is pretty much expected the new restoration and final digital presentation looks superb. A good portion of the film takes place in dark or low-lit settings, which looked a bit muddy on the older Kino DVD, but is no longer the case here thanks to inkier black levels and better colour saturation, which aids in bestowing a sharper image that delivers superb shadow detail. Brighter scenes also look excellent, with some extremely bright whites (the two antagonists wear a lot of white), but they never bloom or bleed. Everything is clearly defined with nice crisp edges and you can make the out finer object details, even in the longer shots (a few exterior shots are notably breathtaking).

The digital presentation is also clean, and I didn’t spot any artifacts of note. Grain is rendered cleanly and naturally, even in the low-lit sequences, and the image looks like a film. The restoration also cleans up every bit of dirt and debris and nothing remains. The film’s colour scheme sticks a lot with beiges and such, but they are saturated nicely, and a few pops of deep red look terrific. The presentation looks fresh, it looks clean, and it looks new. It looks absolutely great.

10/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

AUDIO

The film only comes with a German DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround presentation. I was rather surprised how dynamic this track can be, offering impressive range between the lows and highs. Most of the activity is focused to the fronts as far as I could tell, with very little going to the rears, the only notable parts sticking out being a sudden blast and some death metal that pops up during the film. It’s also clean and free of damage.

8/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Criterion’s special edition starts things off with a new 25-minute interview featuring director Michael Haneke. He covers subjects he’s covered oftentimes before (like his statement “anyone who leaves the cinema doesn't need the film, and anybody who stays does" for example) but he also sits and explains how the film evolved through the years, it starting out as what sounds to be a general genre picture (in the late 60s!) before becoming the film it is now. He explains how certain elements came to be (I was surprised how Tom Jones was actually a big influence on him regarding the film’s fourth-wall breaks) and how he intended it to work on audiences. He also talks about the various technical challenges that came up during filming (like the long single take midway through) and how his actors helped in this. Amusingly he still seems to take delight in talking about the film, which makes the interview fun. The only disappointing aspect is that he doesn’t talk about the remake all that much.

Criterion also gets a new interview with actor Arno Frisch, who is sadly, of the four primary performers, the only surviving cast member. Frisch had worked previously with Haneke (and Funny Games co-star Ulrich Mühe) on Benny’s Video and was surprised and delighted when the filmmaker offered him this role, something he never expected to play. He then pleasantly recalls his favourite moments from the film, building a friendship with his co-star Frank Giering, and recounts the screening at Cannes and the wide range of reactions to the film. Frisch is very loose and like Haneke he seems to be thrilled to be talking about the film. It runs 18-minutes.

Film historian Alexander Horwath next pops up for 28-minutes to talk about Funny Games in relation to Haneke’s other films, which have changed somewhat in terms of style and narration through the years. He talks about the film as more of an essay (calling it “expanded cinema”) and explains how it toys with audiences, even going over why some audiences have such a negative reaction to the film. He doesn’t explain anything all that surprising or new here (though it’s probably aimed at newcomers to the film) but I liked the last section of his discussion where he talks about a wave of the more playful films that toyed with their audience that came out around the same period, from something like Fight Club the very self-aware Scream. It can be a bit stuffy but it’s a decent addition.

Criterion also digs up the 1997 Cannes press conference for the film, which features Haneke and actors Mühe, Frisch, and Susanne Lothar. Running 44-minutes this is one of the odder press conferences I’ve watched so far. Journalists seem less involved than I would have expected and for the most part they don’t seem to know what kind of questions to ask, with the moderator having to interject every so often to end the silence. Haneke seems a wee-bit frustrated by a few questions (like ones about possible sociological readings, which Haneke didn’t intend) but he is open and willing to talk about what the film is about and who he made it for (audiences that would watch the type of thrillers this film is about). The rest of the panel is just as open and I can’t blame them for the lack of energy here, but this is one of the least interesting press conferences I’ve viewed so far.

The disc then closes with the film’s original theatrical trailer, while the included insert features an excellent essay on the film by Bilge Ebiri, who admires how the director leads the audience along (he does also take a slight swipe at the 2007 remake).

It would have been great if Criterion could have included the remake, though it’s hard to fault them for not doing so (I’m sure the costs would have been restrictive). As it is, though, they have gathered together three enjoyable interviews that should also help those coming to the film for the first time.

7/10

CLOSING

Criterion puts together a decent special edition, but it’s the new restoration that impressed most. It’s undoubtedly worth upgrading to over the previous Kino DVD.


View packaging for this Blu-ray

Share: 



Purchase From:
amazon.com  amazon.ca