The Institute Benjamenta (1996)



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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 between the two of them intensifies, Lisa's health declines more and more, leading Johannes to question Jakob's influence on her. The screenplay was adapted from the novel Jakob von Gunten by Robert Walser. ~ Matthew Tobey, Rovi


Critic Reviews for The Institute Benjamenta

All Critics (7) | Top Critics (1)

It is a demanding, even forbidding work, but richly rewarding and often surpassingly beautiful.

Dec 12, 2017 | Full Review…

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

May 17, 2010 | Full Review…

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

Aug 8, 2006 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

A one-of-a-kind education in creative filmmaking.

Oct 28, 2002 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

The film sets a nightmarish tone.

Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

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
Greg S

Super Reviewer

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