Helnwein directs his narratives at his immediate audience, confronting and implicating his viewers, sometimes as the victims, other times as the perpetrators, but always as characters in his story. Collective audience reception is crucial to his mission, and he uses a number of characteristic devices such as scale and unlikely positioning of his work to intensify the experience and present questions. Exhibitions of his work become personalized dialogues with morality.
The new documentary film, "The Silence of Innocence", offers first-hand footage and interviews with the artist. The title refers to a recurring theme in the history of art of Infanticide, as told in the book of Matthew and painted iconically by Peter Paul Rubens c. 1611-1612.