Saturday, January 23, 2010

The White Ribbon

Writer/director Michael Haneke brings us his latest film to excite and confound us. Mr. Haneke's work is always intelligent, provocative, disturbing, and frustrating. "The White Ribbon" is all of this and more.

Set just before World War One, in a small German village, the film concerns itself with an escalating series of strange accidents befalling the townspeople. There is an underbelly of hate and anger growing beneath the seemingly peaceful village and the actions at work here are not obvious or easily explained. By the end of the film, you should realize where this is going but, as with much of Mr. Haneke's work, there no easy answers.

The cinematography is remarkable. The film is shot in black and white and the stark images are haunting. It is beautiful to watch. There is no soundtrack. The lack of color and music add to the tension but may put off many viewers. The acting is excellent with never a false note. The children, in particular, will remind you of the '60's British film "Children of The Damned". They are convincingly creepy and marked with a sense of growing evil.

The White Ribbon of the title signifies innocence but the film shatters that innocence and will provoke discussion and debate long after it ends. It is in German with English subtitles.

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