Episode 63. Play Dead: Funny Games (1997)

What constitutes a film? What constitutes a podcast episode description? Andrea and Alex ask these questions (okay, maybe not that last one) and more in this month’s episode. By plundering the depths of filmic conventions, audience expectations and interpersonal contracts, Michael Haneke’s Funny Games asks the hard questions for which there are many answers.


Funny Games. Dir. Michael Haneke, 1997.


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Salem Horror Fest. We’ll be back October 12-14! Get your tickets now.

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The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life by Erving Goffman. Symbolic interactionism and dramaturgical analysis.

Bertolt Brecht. Avant-garde theatre practioner who believed in distancing an audience to encourage rational thought over emotional engagement.

Anne Dufourmantelle. The Philosophy of Hospitality. An exploration of the people involved in the dynamics of hospitality.

Jacques Derrida on Hospitality. The French philosopher’s take on the conditional and unconditional concepts of hospitality.

The 1990s Teen Horror Cycle. Alex’s new book is available now through McFarland Books!


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5 thoughts on “Episode 63. Play Dead: Funny Games (1997)

  1. LaMort says:

    The biggest problem i have with Haneke’s American remake was the casting of Watts and Roth. Both appear a lot younger and smaller then their Austrian counterparts. The American victims didn’t seem as wise and as strong. It changed the dynamic of the remake even if it was shot-for-shot.

  2. Gonzo says:

    Hi, I am glad that you are discussing a movie by one of my favorite directors. I waited a long time for this, but since you are the “faculty of horror” and want to educate people a few annotations: Haneke is Austrian not German. He was born in Munich though.
    Peter an Paul were the most important apostles of Jesus. But they did not write gospels. Peter was to be the rock on which the new religion was built on. He was also the one who started the first christian community in Rome. His original name was Simon but was apparently named Peter by Jesus if I am not wrong. Oh, and he was a fisherman – maybe a connection to the lake. Paul was also a very successful missionary of the new religion. So maybe both characters in the movie represent the missionaries of a new violence driven religion – American movies. I don’t know, just spitballing. But maybe one of them should be called Jesus since he got resurrected :).

    • L. Hazelton says:

      Peter and Paul were sometimes perceived as being at odds, although it could be argued that was not the case. I haven’t seen the movie, so I don’t know if that has any relevance. (And there was the 60’s music group Peter, Paul and Mary – was there a Mary in the movie?) Also, it’s John the Baptist. I sense our hosts take pride in not knowing biblical references, but this would not have been difficult to fact check.

  3. Mary says:

    Oh I’m so glad Brecht was mentioned!!

  4. Filth says:

    I hadn’t much considered the difference in what the mother is wearing between the two versions until now–but once you brought it up, my instinctive thought was Naomi Watts showing more skin and Peter & Paul pointing it out with their discussion is pointing the lens at Hollywood’s persistence of the male gaze. If the remake is thought of as presenting Haneke’s ideas with the facade of appealing to a broader Hollywood audience, I took that moment to be playing off the audience assumption that “oh, of course the Hollywood version has her almost naked”. Similar to the “we’re not yet at feature length” moment (fun fact, that line comes precisely as the film hits the technical definition of feature length) in pointing out that this is a movie and not reality and using those conventions to their advantage in ratcheting up their cruelty.

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