The White Ribbon (2009)

R   |    |  Drama, History, Mystery


The White Ribbon (2009) Poster

Strange events happen in a small village in the north of Germany during the years before World War I, which seem to be ritual punishment. Who is responsible?


7.8/10
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  • Detlev Buck and Christian Friedel in The White Ribbon (2009)
  • Leonard Proxauf in The White Ribbon (2009)
  • Ursina Lardi in The White Ribbon (2009)
  • The White Ribbon (2009)
  • The White Ribbon (2009)

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21 May 2009 | mensch-2
10
| Exquisite and brooding mood-piece
Few film auteurs can match the consistency of Michael Haneke, and once again the Austrian filmmaker has come up trumps with an exquisite and brooding mediation on repression, tradition and the sins of the father.

Shot in stunning black and white, the film chronicles a series of mysterious events in a town leading up to the outbreak of WWI. The pace is slow and thoughtful, and the film is reference to August Sander while being a respectful throwback to the German expressionists whose work would come out of the horrors the film's narrative seems to foreshadow.

The hallmarks of Haneke's body of work are all there – elegiac tone, clinical editing, wincingly frank dialogue – but in many ways The White Ribbon stands alone in the canon. It is a challenging work that will polarise audiences but represents a breathtaking new wave not just in the director's career but in European cinema.

Some might say the film's inherent flaw is that there is no-one to root for, but this is perhaps its key strength. It's certainly plausible that this is Haneke's intention: he wants to position us as mute outsiders to a slowly creeping menace, unable to have a say in the invisible horrors that await us. The result is a deadening and thoroughly rewarding experience - a combination few filmmakers could hope to achieve.

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