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September 20, 2010 | by  | in Film |
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The White Ribbon

The White Ribbon
Director: Michael Haneke

The White Ribbon is a film that will have you talking afterwards. The film is about a series of mysterious crimes perpetrated against the inhabitants of a small German village throughout 1913 – 1914. It works as an incredibly restrained murder-mystery, offering tantalising clues but leaving the audience re-arranging the evidence in their minds well after the end credits have rolled.

Haneke is a director who is well known for unsettling audiences, be it in Funny Games (the original, that is) or The Piano Teacher. Scenes like a mentally-disabled boy howling after he has been severely beaten, or a young boy walking in on his sister being fingered by their father, firmly position The White Ribbon in familiar Haneke territory. The film’s disturbing nature is enhanced by having children involved in, or witness, these horrific events.

The cinematography in The White Ribbon is beautiful. The richness of the black and white images on the screen transport you to a bygone era, and for some reason make the story seem more real. Despite being shot digitally, it features none of the annoying hallmarks of digital cinematography and looks more filmic than most films. Meticulous costume and production design further help sell this illusion of the past.

The performances across the entire film are very good. The child actors are fantastic, every note of their performances ringing true. Without their multifaceted performances the film would not have had its subtle and disturbing emotional core. A lot of attention has been drawn to the fact that The White Ribbon is a story about the rise of fascism in Germany. Although this parallel cannot be escaped, I think too much has been made of it. Instead we should focus on the film’s true emotional core: how disturbing the world truly is through the eyes of a child.


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