Ben X

Last updated
Ben X
Ben x poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Nic Balthazar
Screenplay byNic Balthazar
Based onNothing Was All He Said
by Nic Balthazar
Produced byPeter Bouckaert
  • Greg Timmermans
  • Laura Verlinden
  • Marijke Pinoy
CinematographyLou Berghmans
Edited byPhilippe Ravoet
Music by Praga Khan
MMG Film
Release dates
  • 26 September 2007 (2007-09-26)(Belgium)
  • 8 November 2007 (2007-11-08)(Netherlands)
Running time
93 minutes [1]
Box officeUS$2,744,414 [2]

Ben X is a 2007 Belgian-Dutch drama film based on the novel Nothing Was All He Said (Dutch: Niets Was Alles Wat Hij Zei) by Nic Balthazar, who also directed the film. [3] The film is about a boy with Asperger syndrome (played by Greg Timmermans) who retreats into the fantasy world of the MMORPG ArchLord to escape bullying. The film's title is a reference to the leet version of the Dutch phrase "(ik) ben niks", meaning "(I) am nothing".


The novel was inspired by the true story of a boy with autism who committed suicide because of bullying. [4]

The film won three awards at the 31st Montreal World Film Festival: the Grand Prix des Amériques, the Prix du Public for the most popular film, and the Ecumenical Jury Prize for its exploration of ethical and social values. The film was the Belgian entry for the Academy Awards 2007 in the category Best Foreign Language Film but failed to receive the actual nomination.


Teenage Ben is frequently bullied at school. To escape his harsh reality, he turns to a virtual world by playing an online game, ArchLord . In the game, he is a confident and brave hero. Moreover, he collaborates his adventures with another online user known in-game as Scarlite.

One day, Ben is being bullied again. During the class break, the bullies drag Ben on top of a table and pull his pants down, while classmates record the incident on their phones. With cruel remarks and teasing from his classmates, Ben becomes so humiliated and frustrated that he smashes the window with a chair. Ben is immediately sent to the headmaster's office, where the headmaster asks Ben to explain the incident. Ben, however, does not speak at all, leaving the issue unresolved. After that scene, it's revealed that Ben has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a form of autism. Things gets worse for Ben as the class incident gets posted on the internet. Feeling distraught about his life in general, Ben is even ready to leave his virtual world behind, where he tells Scarlite that he is ready to "endgame". Concerned, Scarlite sends a video message to Ben X (as Scarlite has no idea what Ben looks like) saying that there cannot be an endgame, unless there is a healer. Scarlite then tells Ben to meet her at the train station.

At the train station, Ben sees Scarlite, but does not go to her. Scarlite, assuming that Ben did not show up at all, goes to the train. Ben follows Scarlite onto the train and sits next to her, feeling nervous and excited at the same time. Just as the train approaches Brussels, Scarlite asks Ben if he is all right. Ben does not reply and goes off, leaving Scarlite behind. Having not talked to Scarlite, Ben was contemplating suicide by jumping off the platform. As Ben was ready to jump, he is pulled back and it's revealed that it's Scarlite who did so. She later tells Ben that he can choose to either give up and take his own life or take revenge and fight, just like he would in Archlord. But, to make the decision, he needs to devise a plan.

Ben (with Scarlite) asks his parents to help. He has decided to commit suicide by jumping off the ferry. He does so, and captures the suicide on tape. Afterwards, a funeral was held for Ben, with everybody, including the bullies being present. As the funeral went on, the video then changes to Ben and his speech (which seems like a suicide note video). In the video, the bullies are exposed (as well as the classmates involved) of what they have done to Ben that day of the incident. Then, to everyone's shock, it was revealed that Ben is alive, by his shadow seen over the video and Ben being seen from the projecting room. It turns out that Ben had chosen to take revenge on the bullies by faking his own suicide. It was revealed that as he jumped off the ferry, his parents had caught him at the lower deck, as part of the plan.

Afterwards, Ben, Scarlite, his mother, and his brother are at a horse ranch in the country. The horse instructor shows Ben how to be friendly with the horse and tells him that "You must learn to feel, in order to feel good". Ben touches the horse gently, just as the instructor told him and feels happy. Ben then goes to Scarlite and talks to her. The horse instructor looks baffled, as it is revealed that Ben is actually talking to himself. Ben's mother then tells the horse instructor that everything is fine and Ben is happy.



Erik Leijonborg adapted the film into a Swedish-language remake, IRL .


The film was adapted into a graphic novel, drawn by NDurlie, [5] the pseudonym of Veerle Colle. [6]


Istanbul International Film Festival Fipresci Prize Nic Balthazar Won
Montréal World Film Festival Grand Prix des Amériques Nic Balthazar Won
Most Popular FilmWon
Prize of the Ecumenical JuryWon

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time</i> Fictional Mystery Novel by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a 2003 mystery novel by British writer Mark Haddon. Its title refers to an observation by the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes in the 1892 short story "The Adventure of Silver Blaze". Haddon and The Curious Incident won the Whitbread Book Awards for Best Novel and Book of the Year, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book, and the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize. Unusually, it was published simultaneously in separate editions for adults and children.

<i>Ben Hur</i> (2003 film) 2003 animated film based on the Lew Wallaces 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ

Ben Hur is a 2003 animated drama film based on the 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, by Lew Wallace. It is the fourth film adaptation of the novel following the 1907 silent short film, the 1925 silent film, and the Academy Award-winning 1959 film.

<i>School Ties</i> 1992 American sports drama film by Robert Mandel

School Ties is a 1992 American sports drama film directed by Robert Mandel and starring Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon, Chris O'Donnell, Randall Batinkoff, Andrew Lowery, Cole Hauser, Ben Affleck, and Anthony Rapp. Fraser plays the lead role as David Greene, a Jewish high school student who is awarded an athletic scholarship to an elite preparatory school in his senior year.

<i>Hounded</i> (film)

Hounded is a 2001 Disney Channel Original Movie starring Tahj Mowry, Craig Kirkwood, Shia LaBeouf and Ed Begley, Jr. It was filmed in Salt Lake City, Utah at the Madeleine Choir School campus.

<i>Jump In!</i> 2007 television film directed by Paul Hoen

Jump In! is a 2007 Disney Channel Original Movie, which premiered on January 12, 2007. It was released on Disney Channel UK on April 27, 2007. The film, starring Corbin Bleu and Keke Palmer, revolves around a young boxer, Izzy Daniels (Bleu), who trains to follow in his father's footsteps by winning the Golden Glove. When his friend, Mary (Palmer), asks him to substitute for a team member in a Double Dutch tournament, Izzy discovers his new love for the sport. At the same time, he discovers true love in Mary and he deals with the conflict between him and his father about boxing. Filming took place from June–July 2006 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Asperger syndrome (AS) is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It is a relatively new diagnosis in the field of autism, but is no longer used and rejected by many autistic individuals. It was named after Hans Asperger (1906–80), who was an Austrian psychiatrist and pediatrician. An English psychiatrist, Lorna Wing, popularized the term "Asperger's syndrome" in a 1981 publication; the first book in English on Asperger syndrome was written by Uta Frith in 1991 and the condition was subsequently recognized in formal diagnostic manuals later in the 1990s. Details of Hans Asperger 's actions as a psychiatrist in Nazi era Austria, made public in 2018, incited reevaluation of the syndrome's name and public lobbying for a renaming of the syndrome. Under the DSM-5 and ICD-10, patients formerly diagnosable with Asperger syndrome are diagnosable with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Nic Balthazar Belgian film director

Nic Balthazar is a Belgian film director and a TV/radio personality.

<i>Life</i> (manga)

Life is a Japanese shōjo manga series written and illustrated by Keiko Suenobu. Life was serialized in Bessatsu Friend, a publication of Kodansha, and deals with many controversial topics such as self-harm, bullying, rape, attempted suicide, attempted murder, molestation, bondage (BDSM), and manipulation. In 2006, it won the Kodansha Manga Award for shōjo. Suenobu created a sequel to the manga, titled Life 2: Giver Taker, which started serialization in the seinen manga magazine Monthly Afternoon on June 25, 2016.

Alex Plank American actor

Alexander Plank is an American autism advocate, filmmaker, actor, and the creator of Wrong Planet. He is known for founding the online community Wrong Planet, working on FX's television series The Bridge, and acting on The Good Doctor. At the age of 9, Plank was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. Plank started Wrong Planet at the age of 17 in order to find others like him on the Internet. After the popularity of Wrong Planet grew, Plank has been frequently mentioned in the mainstream media in articles relating to autism, Asperger's, and autism rights.

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) or autism spectrum conditions (ASCs) describe a range of conditions classified as neurodevelopmental disorders in the DSM-5, used by the American Psychiatric Association. As with many neurodivergent people and conditions, the popular image of autistic people and autism itself is often based on inaccurate media representations. Additionally, media about autism may promote pseudoscience such as vaccine denial or facilitated communication.

<i>IRL</i> (film) 2013 Swedish drama film

IRL is a Swedish 2013 drama film, directed by Erik Leijonborg and starring Valter Skarsgård, Happy Jankell and Alba August. The picture is a remake of the Belgian film Ben X (2006) by Nic Balthazar.

Daniel James Lightwing is a former mathematics child prodigy and co-founder of the London-based Internet/gambling business Castella Research, which uses high-frequency trading inspired methods to place bets on sports exchanges. He was previously a web backend developer for the London offices of Google. In 2006, he represented the United Kingdom at the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, where he won a silver medal. His experience at the IMO was described in the 2007 BBC Two British television documentary Beautiful Young Minds and the 2014 film X+Y.

<i>1:54</i> (film) 2016 Canadian film

1:54 is a 2016 Canadian drama film directed by Yan England. Starring Antoine Olivier Pilon, Lou-Pascal Tremblay and Sophie Nélisse, it also features roles by David Boutin, Patrice Godin, Robert Naylor and Anthony Therrien. The film launched on wider screens on 13 October 2016 tackles the phenomenon of bullying in schools.

Nothing Was All He Said or Niets Was Alles Wat Hij Zei in Dutch is a 2003 Belgian novel written by Nic Balthazar. The book is based on the real story of a man from Ghent with autism, named Tim, who committed suicide because of bullying. Balthazar would later also direct the film adaptation Ben X in 2007. Balthazar wrote the book to cause awareness to how grave the consequences of bullying can be.

<i>Social Suicide</i> (film) 2015 British film

Social Suicide is a 2015 British romantic drama psychological thriller starring India Eisley and Jackson Bews. Inspired by William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, the film reunited Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting for the first time since the 1968 film adaptation.

Jason Haynes Fictional character from BBC medical drama Holby City

Jason Haynes is a fictional character from the BBC medical drama Holby City, played by actor Jules Robertson. He first appeared in the series eighteen episode "A Partnership, Literally", broadcast on 9 February 2016. Jason arrives at Holby City hospital to work as a porter after being introduced as the nephew of Consultant Serena Campbell. Robertson was cast after he impressed producers after auditioning against several other actors. Jason has Asperger syndrome and Robertson is the first non-neurotypical actor to play a non-neurotypical character in an ongoing role. Robertson has stated that his own experience with autism helped him portray Jason accurately. He is characterised as a nice man, who Robertson describes as "geeky and shy" and lacking a sense of humour.

Shooting of Linden Cameron Police shooting of 13-year old in Salt Lake City, Utah

On September 4, 2020, Linden Cameron, a 13-year-old boy with Asperger's syndrome, who was unarmed, was shot and seriously injured by a police officer in Salt Lake City, Utah. Cameron was shot at eleven times by a member of the Salt Lake City Police Department after Cameron ran from his house during a mental breakdown.


  1. "BEN X (15)". British Board of Film Classification . 4 March 2008. Retrieved 5 March 2013.
  2. Ben X at Box Office Mojo
  3. "Film "Ben X" wins in Montreal". . 4 September 2007. Archived from the original on 12 October 2007. Retrieved 23 July 2010.
  4. "Nic Balthazar maakt theaterstuk en film over jongeren en pesten" [Nic Balthazar makes a film about young people and bullying]. Het Nieuwsblad (in Dutch). 16 January 2005. Archived from the original on 12 June 2011. Retrieved 23 July 2010.
  5. "Canvas: (Her)bekijk je favoriete programma's: Actua, docu en series".
  6. "Veerle Colle".