Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The White Ribbon - DVD Review


Starring Burghart Klaussner, Christian Friedel, Leonie Benesch, Ulrich Tukur, Michael Kranz, Maria-Victoria Dragus, Levin Henning and Ursina Lardi.
Directed by Michael Haneke.

This 2009 nominee for Best Foreign Film lives up to the hype. It's all about quiet malevolence in a small Germany town in 1913. There are children around, but they rarely laugh. There are stern leaders in the town, namely the Baron, who owns half the land and who empliys most of the people. There is also the Pastor, whose harsh discipline he sees as cleansing. The children and the workers are being groomed to learn one virtue, that of submission.

But there are disturbing happenings around the town. Someone drew a wire between two trees that caused the Doctor to fall off his horse. A young boy is kidnapped and tortured. A worker dies in a mill "accident." No one knows what's causing these things, nor is it ever spelled out for us, but it is implied, and the viewer's allowed to draw his own conclusions.

Germany 1913. These children will be adults when Hitler rises to power, and while some have the seed of sadism planted, others have the seed of not rocking the boat, obeying whoever's in power. Negative actions have negative consequences. It's one I'll be thinking about for days.

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