In this dark satire, a film crew follows a ruthless thief and heartless killer as he goes about his daily routines. But complications set in when the film crew loses their abjectness and begin lending a hand.
Release Year: 1992
Rating: 7.6/10 (16,400 voted)
Stars: Benoît Poelvoorde, Jacqueline Poelvoorde-Pappaert, Nelly Pappaert
A camera crew follows a serial killer/thief around as he exercises his craft. He expounds on art, music, nature, society, and life as he offs mailmen, pensioners, and random people. Slowly he begins involving the camera crew in his activities, and they begin wondering if what they're doing is such a good idea, particularly when the killer kills a rival and the rival's brother sends a threatening letter.
Writers: Rémy Belvaux, Rémy Belvaux
Bed-ridden Old Man
Édith Le Merdy
Rape Victim (Martine)
Rape Victim's Husband
A Killer Comedy
Release Date: 15 January 1993
Filming Locations: Brussels, Brussels-Capital, Belgium
Box Office Details
Budget: BEF 1,000,000
Did You Know?
According to an essay André wrote, Ben's family didn't know anything about the plot of the film. Ben's mother and grandparents thought they were filming raw footage of Ben, and had no idea that the footage was going to be used in a film in which Ben is a serial killer. Ben's mother was shocked to see her son behind bars, when she comes to visit him in prison.
When Ben has suffocated the little kid by putting a pillow on his face, the body stops stumbling and is supposedly dead, but the chest still makes breathing movements.
If you kill a whale, you get Greenpeace and Jacques Cousteau on your back, but wipe out sardines and you get a canning subsidy!
A disturbing farce
I get the feeling through reading the other comments here, that many people
miss (or perhaps I am wrong about it) the point of this film. First let me
point out that Man Bites Dog is a brilliant film, a first rate production.
However, it is disturbing and cruel and meanspirited. And it MUST be such.
It is not a character sketch about a serial killer, but instead and
indictment of the viewer. The main character makes us laugh at his gallows
humor, but then continually throws our laughter back in our faces. We
identify with him, but then are repulsed by him. Ultimately this film is a
commentary on human beings and particularly their media driven obsession
with violence. That is what makes this a fantastic movie.
This film is not simply about a serial killer, but about a film crew who
follows him around in order to get a story (an indictment of journalistic
detatchment). The media is not simply a passive observer, but an active
participant in the crimes of the psychopath (this should ring bells with us
regarding the recent spate of school shootings and Time magazine's decision
to have the Columbine kids on the cover).
However, this is not a simplistic film that simply points its finger at an
easy target like the mass media (as happens in Scream), but is much more
complex. The film goes to the next level and indicts the viewer himself as
perpetuating this cycle. We are entertained by the glib killer, we identify
with him, he is a cool guy or at least a witty one. This sort of reminds of
the type of people who went to visit John Wayne Gacy or wrote love letters
to Richard Ramirez, but these are not the only people that this film is
directed at, it is directed at all of us… all of us who are fascinated by
carnage, who keep body counts of mass murderers, who watch every special
regarding serial killers on CNBC. This film as indictment of our obsession
with these murders, and this indictment is so skillfully played out that
this film becomes great.
The movie works hard to cause the viewer to identify with the killer and
then throws the horrors of what the killer actually does into our faces.
The murder of the child in the house in the suburbs, the horrifying rape
scene at the end of the film. These things are supposed to throw us back
into our humanity, out of the fiction of the romantic psychopath, and they
do so brilliantly. I felt really dirty and uncomfortable after watching
this film and I believe that this is precisely how I was supposed to feel.
I think that the confusion regarding this film arises from these
contradictions, that the film sets itself up as a comedy, but becomes
something else quite quickly; something complex and somewhat ugly. The film
does not allow itself to be easily pigeon-holed. Overall, an excellent
film… a double-feature with Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer would be an