The White Ribbon
Michael Haneke’s Palme d’Or winning film The White Ribbon, set in rural Germany in 1913, depicts the disintegration of a small community as violent crimes are committed against the villagers; seemingly solid marriages crumble and a shady underbelly of abuse, incest and misery is revealed. The impending spectre of the First World War is only hinted at, as the slow degeneration of relationships and personal tragedies take centre stage. Like Haneke’s previous feature, the much acclaimed Hidden, The White Ribbon is a demanding, complex thriller, and Haneke expertly manipulates the audience’s desire to know exactly who is behind the heinous crimes. Filmed entirely in monochrome, the film looks starkly beautiful and the performances by the child actors are astonishing – angelic faces become profoundly unsettling under Haneke’s shadowy lighting. At two and a half hours, The White Ribbon will never qualify as light entertainment, but as a piece of beautifully shot, intense art-cinema, it makes for a lingering, deeply affecting experience.