29 September 2011

The White Ribbon

Das weiße Band . Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (Austria/Germany, 2009)
The White Ribbon
dir. Michael Haneke
Cannes, 2009, Palme d'Or
rating: ✬✬✬

It's a grim movie set in a north German village on the eve of WWI. It is a world of its own, with predictable progression of seasons and generations, hierarchical, and socially repressive. Yet events happen from time to time that remain unexplained.

The film certainly is gripping, even disturbing to watch but, at 145 min., long, unresolved, and ultimately unsatisfying. Years later a teacher is recounting his experiences in the village. He never got to the bottom of mysterious, violent events then, and neither does the audience now.

It's a dour tale of dirty secrets and religious repression, of hypocritical adults and scary, enigmatic children. [Martin Morrow, CBC News, 14 January 2010]