Funny Games (1997 film)  

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Funny Games is a 1997 psychological horror film directed by the Austrian Michael Haneke. The plot of the film involves two psychopaths who hold a family hostage and torture them with sadistic games. The rewind scene is considered a classic. An American remake was directed by Haneke and released in 2008.


The film frequently blurs the line between fiction and reality, especially highlighting the act of observation. The character Paul breaks the fourth wall throughout the movie and addresses the camera in various ways. As he directs Anna to look for her dead dog, he turns and smirks at the camera. When he asks the family to bet on their survival, he turns to the camera and asks the audience whether they will bet as well. At the end of the film, when requesting eggs from the next family, he looks into the camera and smirks again. Only Paul shows awareness that the film is being observed by the audience.

Paul also frequently states his intentions to follow the standards of movie plot development. When he asks the audience to bet, he guesses that the audience wants the family to win. After the killers vanish in the third act, Paul later explains that he had to give the victims a last chance to escape or else it would not be dramatic. Toward the end of the movie, he refuses to kill the rest of the family because the movie has not yet reached feature length. Paul shows awareness of the audience's expectations.

However, Paul also causes the film to go against convention on a number of occasions. In thriller movies, one sympathetic character usually survives, but here all three family members die. When Anna successfully shoots Peter, as a possible start to a heroic escape for the family, Paul uses a remote control to rewind the film itself and prevent her action. After Schorschi dies, Paul regrets killing him first because it goes against convention and limits the suspense for the rest of the film. At the end of the film, the murderers prevent Anna from using a knife in the boat to cut her bonds. An earlier shot had pointed out the knife's location as a possible set-up for a final-act escape, but this becomes a red herring. As a self-aware character, Paul is able to go against convention to make himself the winner of the film.

At the end of the film, Peter and Paul argue about the line between reality and fiction. While Paul believes that a fiction that is observed is just as real as anything else, Peter dismisses this idea. Unlike Paul, Peter never shows an awareness that he is in a film. Paul even ends the film on a fourth wall break; by freeze framing the camera with a close up evil smile.

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