Top: Benny’s Video (Michael Haneke, 1992)
Bottom: The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke, 2009)
I took the top frame from Benny’s Video and posted it alongside this brief shot analysis. I took the bottom frame from The White Ribbon as a companion piece to that analysis. Without getting into great detail, both shots evince a sort of wall to hide acts of violence. That, of course, evokes both the psychology and the visualization of violence that permeates various mediums. While there are numerous ways of reading Haneke’s retentive cinematography in both instances, it is clear that, on a phenomenological level, this implication of violence intensifies the situation by leaving it up to the viewer to determine what’s going on behind the veil.
Should we go deeper into my thesis pertaining to the psychology and the visualization of violence, then both films are formally reproducing the act of censorship. Therefore, it evokes our own wish to obviate these images from our consciousness, despite our inability to eliminate them entirely from our minds. Alternatively, it could be argued that the films are denying the masochistic spectator who yearns for such visual sadism by not showing the acts of violence in their entirety.