directed by Michael Haneke (2009)
The White Ribbon very much reminds me of a classic “man’s inhumanity towards man” novel taught in high schools and is far more interesting than all the bratty kids reading it will give it credit for. It questions whether man is inherently evil and if you’ve ever seen a Michael Haneke movie, you’ll not be surprised that his answer is yes.
I can even envision the reading comprehension questions at the back of the non existent text book:
1. Who do you think committed all the crimes? And what was their motive?
2. Is the narrator correct in his accusations?
3. What do you think happened to the midwife and her son? What about the Doctor and his family?
All questions I’ve been pondering and frankly wish I had a classroom of people who’ve seen it to discuss.
Several disturbing acts of violence erupt in a small German village before the break out of World War I. From torture to arson, the crimes are as heinous as they are confounding and Haneke, once again proving he’s one the most compelling and daring film makers working today, isn’t as forthcoming as he seems. These troubling times are told through the eyes of a kind school teacher as he falls in love with a local governess, lending a small glimmer of benevolence among the cruelty.
The film is absolutely beautiful, not only is the cinematography stunning and sweeping, but the details of costume and set are superb. This is a cold, severe, yet elegant take on the themes we love so well in Nick Cave’s “The Curse of Millhaven”, Village of the Damned and Lord of the Flies. The children are impeccably cast.
It is available on netflix instant and I hope that will allow it to find a wider audience despite it’s deliberate pace.