The White Ribbon

A brutal black and white film by Michael Haneke about the shame of masturbation, animal mutilation, incest and the symbolism of pierced ears, torturing the retarded, bleak and swift whitesuicide, a meditation on sin,ritualized punishment, cruelty and the hardness of hearts, guilt and innocence, apathy and revenge. So many crazy events occur in this little German village on the eve of WWI that pretty soon the villagers are looking around at each other with very suspicious eyes – and so are we. The children seem to be at the heart of this mystery and I can’t help but think that they’re exactly the generation who would become Nazis. The children, whether or not they’re responsible for the mysterious atrocities, have no escape from their relentlessly punitive lives, and for nearly two and a half hours, neither do we.

Whose job is it to prevent evil? Why do we strive to puzzle out random acts? Are we willing to surrender freedom to mitigate danger? Heneke hints at a lot of uncomfortable questions and if you dare to watch, you’ll find it’s not just a question of whodunnit, and even if you ask the right questions, there’s no telling if you’ll ever find the answers.

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19 thoughts on “The White Ribbon

  1. mattasshole

    I watched this when I was going through my Michael Haneke phase a couple of months ago but I wouldn’t have known how to begin to write a post about it. You’re braver than I am.

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  2. ruth

    Interesting that you and my friend Cindy just posted about this film. Sounds like a tough watch, I’m not sure Haneke’s stuff is my cup of tea to be honest.

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      1. ruth

        Mwahahaha, now that’s an analogy πŸ˜‰ Btw Jay, hope you can take part in my blog’s monthly series. It’s up now!

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    1. Jay Post author

      Visually disburning, not very. Not gory. They don’t really wallow in the disturbing – I’d say it’s worse after the fact. Plus, everything is vague. I want to say maybe 6 out of 10, but I realize Haneke probably deserves his own scale and I’m probably thinking of this in context of some of his other work, which might actually make you sick.

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  3. emmakwall

    I’ve had this sitting in my DVD shelf for literally about 3 years! I need to watch it but keep putting it off.

    And Michael Haneke usually makes such easy going films (!)

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