Michael Haneke's Thought-Provoking, Award-Winning Period Drama
Winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes and the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, The White Ribbon (2009) was also nominated for two Academy Awards, including Best Cinematography. The movie is a German-language drama written and directed by Michael Haneke.
Moody and mesmerizing, The White Ribbon is a deliberately paced, visually stunning black-and-white period piece. Its story is not difficult to follow, but be advised that it is unsettling and does not provide the sense of closure that mainstream moviegoers are accustomed to getting.
The film begins with voice-over narration by an old man reflecting on something he experienced years ago around 1913. In his mind's eye, he is the 31-year-old schoolteacher in a German village that is in a feudal relationship with the estate of a baron (Ulrich Tukur). The hamlet's doctor is badly injured when someone sets up a tripwire for his horse. A tenant farmer's wife is killed at the sawmill. The pastor severely beats his children when they fail to live up to his puritanical standards. The midwife's son, who appears to have Down syndrome, is tortured and nearly blinded.
There's a lot of ambiguity in The White Ribbon, and the viewer is likely to be left feeling unsatisfied at the end. But Haneke has created a memorable portrait of a repressive patriarchal society that looks well-ordered from the outside, yet is rotting away from the inside because of the way it treats its disenfranchised and its children.
The DVD edition of The White Ribbon contains no extras, except for the theatrical trailer. The Blu-ray release provides four featurettes: a making-of documentary, an interview with the filmmaker, the presentation of the film at Cannes, and a piece on the career of Michael Haneke.
Release Date: June 29, 2010
Total Runtime: 2 hours 24 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Some Disturbing Content Involving Violence and Sexuality