The White Ribbon
- Director:Michael Haneke
- Cast:Christian Friedel, Ursina Lardi, Ulrich Tukur
- Release Date:May 06, 2010
- Running time:144 minutes
- Film Worth:$14.00
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
This is an unsettling and absorbing film well worth seeing
Set in a small northern German village just before WW1, this is a mysterious and absorbing saga with strangely contrasting qualities. The exquisite and often static black-and-white cinematography, for example, makes it seem both hyper-real and unreal. The absence of a musical score contributes to an atmosphere at once austere and dreamlike. This being Michael Haneke territory (previously marked by such difficult, confrontational films as The Piano Teacher, Hidden and Funny Games) though, there's an imbalance between innocence and evil, with the latter way out in front.
Among other things, The White Ribbon is a mystery/whodunit, so plot details should be kept to a bare minimum here. The village is controlled, or at least dominated, by a baron (Ulrich Tukur) and a pastor (Burghart Klaussner). It's a supposedly hermetically sealed little world, beset with god-bothering Protestant puritanism, hypocrisy and repression, in which the children seem especially intimidated (not to mention terrified). But the surface equilibrium is being shattered by frequent nasty goings-on, including unlikely accidents, while the cruelty of some villagers is quite mind-boggling. The local schoolteacher (Christian Friedel) takes an appropriately dim view of this, and a very admiring one of Eva (Leonie Benesch), the baron's children's nanny. And then there's the reptilian doctor (Rainer Bock)...
The White Ribbon is unsettling, disturbing and enigmatic; it's often horrifying and occasionally eerily beautiful. There are echoes of Village Of The Damned and other films, but also a solid quorum of originality. When one of the characters complains about "malice, envy, apathy and brutality", she's just scratching the surface of the town's problems.
The acting here is first-rate, especially by the child actors, and the visual style is memorable. Well worth seeing.