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The White Ribbon (2009)

Oscar Watch: Michael Haneke's Film Nominated For Best Foreign Language Film

User Rating 5 Star Rating (1 Review)


The White Ribbon (2009)
Sony Pictures Classics
Filmmaker Michael Haneke won the Palme D'Or at Cannes and a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film for The White Ribbon, an eerie black-and-white exploration of the roots of Nazi terror. Set in a farming village in Germany, members of children's choir fall victim to bizarre accidents. Peter Bradshaw has it exactly right: "This is a profoundly disquieting movie, superbly acted and directed. Its sinister riddle glitters more fiercely each time I watch it."

More About The Film

The White Ribbon Credits

Starring: Susanne Lothar, Steffi Kuhnert, Ulrich Tukur, Leonard Proxauf, Burghart Klaussner
Directed by: Michael Haneke
Produced by: Michael Katz, Margaret Menegoz, Veit Heiduschka
Running Time: 2 hrs. 24 min.
Release Date: December 30th, 2009 (limited)
MPAA Rating: R for some disturbing content involving violence and sexuality.
Distributors: Sony Pictures Classics
User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 5 out of 5
White Ribbon, Member Tarumatu

White Ribbon, directed by Michael Haneke, is set in a rural Protestant community in a German village on the eve of World War I. The village is run by an aristocratic estate in which everyone knows their place in the social order, from the doctor, pastor, teacher, to the migrant labourers. The film begins with the locals being terrorised by a series of anonymous criminal acts: a doctor is hurt whilst on his horse which was tripped by a wire; a woman dies in a sawmill; a barn is set ablaze. The film is shaped by the childrenís perspective, we learn through their harsh experiences that none is without guilt just as none is quite without innocence.??Haneke offers mere suggestions as to why people turn to antisocial behaviour, whether itís sabotaging a crop of cabbages, or assaulting a disabled child. Shame is ever-present in this film, the Ďwhite ribboní of the title is a band tied by the pastor around the arms of naughty children, sometimes for the most innocent and harmless mistakes. Apart from the Baronís son and a handicapped boy, there is no room for the children to be themselves and be loved, every last detail of non-conformity is inspected and punished. This film may have begun with criminality but the tone set by this film is of utter viciousness. This film is about the damage which affects us all, the loss of innocence, the slow, creeping brutality of man, and spiritual myopia. Haneke pays particular attention to the violence inflicted by the higher echelons of the community, especially the pastor and the physical and mental abuse by the doctor not only on his children but also towards his occasional mistress. In one particularly vicious scene, the verbal abuse handed out to her is particularly merciless. The photography is truly breathtaking, with superb acting throughout by the large cast. The sadistic undertones in this film are typical of Haneke. He hasnít lost the ability to shock with some very unsettling moments, but itís his least aggressive film. We are even treated to a tender romance resulting in a sublimely innocent kiss. In a village devoid of any love and affection, this romance seems the only sign of any optimism. We donít know what sparked the birth of fascism, we can only speculate. There are of course parallels today with the many forms of hate and extremism disguised as religion, not just in Islam. The village may have showed us how much has changed in a hundred years, but perhaps the point of this film is that little has changed, and that man has forgotten his parental responsibilities and committed only to control and greed.

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