Das weisse Band
Running Time: 144 minutes
US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15
Country: Austria, Germany, France, Italy
From the Director of the acclaimed movies Funny Games, The Piano Teacher and Cache (Hidden), came this great understated piece that nearly conquered the world at the Oscars in 2009. Michael Haneke has become the master of making you think with beautifully open-ended and ambiguous tales dealing with complex moral issues and The White Ribbon is no exception.
The White Ribbon centres on the strange events that happened in a small German village before the outbreak of World War One. These occurrences begin when the village doctor is thrown off his horse by a trip wire, then a woman falls to her death through rotten planks, before a man is found hanging upside-down in a mill. These stand-out moments are interwoven by the often-cruel lives of the villagers as they discipline their children, carry out incestuous abuse and have complex relationships in many uncomfortable ways. The villagers are all keen to know who did the deeds but the answer is not immediately obvious.
As was the case with Cache, Hanecke is very skilfully vague about who did the crimes and why. It is very much up to the viewer to figure it out for themselves and this gives a feeling of empowerment. It’s the kind of movie that stays with you for a while afterwards and certainly provides you with value for money.
The black and white filming and almost lack of a soundtrack give the film an eerie and suppressed feel and add to the atmosphere of oppression and suspicion. The issues of discipline and repression are dealt with using powerful subtlety throughout and the crimes and the quite miserable existence of the children make their supposed deeds almost excusable. And, of course, there is the allegory of the rise of the Nazi Party running in the subtext but I will leave you to explore that one yourself.
It's Got: Disturbing stories, great characterisation, an open ending (as always)
It Needs: For you to be in the mood for Hanecke's certain brand of deep and depressing stories
DVD Extras Er, none whatsoever DVD Extras Rating: 0/10
Poignant, intelligent and beautifully minimalist, Hanecke pulls off another of his deep open-ended masterpieces. As to be expected though , it’s none to cheery.