The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke – 2009) A

I can write a lot of facts about The White Ribbon. It’s shown in brilliant black and white. It’s set in the year or two leading up to the first World War of 1914. It takes place in a small German village where everyone knows everyone, most people work for the baron, and some weird shit starts happening starting by the odd accident of the town’s doctor tripping and falling off his horse (don’t feel too bad for him, he’s a creep who mistreats his girlfriend and abuses his daughter). The story is told by the town’s teacher who narrates the facts, only the facts, and offers no explanation. Haneke is not interested in explanations or resolutions to any mysteries. Maybe he knows who caused the doctor’s accident, who tortured the baron’s son or who blinded the poor mentally challenged kid. Maybe none of these incidents are even related and some are just crappy luck. Everyone who sees this will have an opinion by the end. The teacher does but he does not share it with us. No, I am really not spoiling the film. I do not think it can be spoiled. It’s about the atmosphere of paranoia or mistrust, of real and imagined threats. Knowing what we know about what happens in 1914 the town folks should be worried. Their world is about to change and not for the better.


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