The Institute Benjamenta (1996)

The Institute Benjamenta




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

From the directing team of identical twin brothers Timothy Quay and Stephen Quay, Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream People Call Human Life focuses on the experiences of Jakob Von Gunten (Mark Rylance), who has come to the titular institute to train to become a manservant. Amidst a series of unorthodox lessons under the instruction of brother and sister Johannes Benjamenta (Gottfried John) and Lisa Benjamenta (Alice Krige), Jakob becomes attracted to Lisa and she to him. As the magnetism … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Art House & International, Special Interest
Directed By: , ,
Written By: Stephen Quay, Timothy Quay, Alan Passes
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 1, 2000



as Lisa Benjamenta

as Jakob von Gunten

as Johannes Benjamenta

as Jörgenson

as Schilinski
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Institute Benjamenta

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Critic Reviews for The Institute Benjamenta

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (4)

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | August 30, 2004
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | February 21, 2001
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

an abstract, uncanny experience which, like any good servant, is far too tactful just to blurt out its masters' secrets.

Full Review… | May 17, 2010
Eye for Film

A beautiful, complex work that's more easily enjoyed in hindsight.

Full Review… | August 8, 2006
Lessons of Darkness

Audience Reviews for The Institute Benjamenta

Thinking he has no important calling in life, an ambitionless man enrolls in a school that trains servants; once there, he enters into an ambiguous, sexually repressed relationship with the headmistress and her brother. A beautiful looking black and white film that deliberately uses shallow focus and overexposure to tremendous artistic effect, though the sludgy, slow and surreal plot will turn the average moviegoer off.

Greg S

Super Reviewer

This game we call the human life, as incest - there is something primal in the symbology of this work, and yet the obsessive-compulsive madness of Quayesque rigor renders it wooden and insipid, repetitive - it is in this repetition that the actors in this human drama find their shells and live them out, not without rupture and the odd necrophilic moment when life as love must needs implode on itself in grey ecstacy. Chilling and inspired. It tasted like chalk.

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