Strange events happen in a small village in the north of Germany during the years just before World War I, which seem to be ritual punishment. The abused and suppressed children of the villagers seem to be at the heart of this mystery.
I saw this film last night and I found it very inspirational. I adore Haneke and the subject matter he chooses. For me this was completely gripping from the beginning. I loved the clarity of the scenes and the honest depiction of the various characters was chilling in parts. There is so much packed in this film I came away full of ideas. Two scenes stick in my head. The first is a scene at a kitchen table where a man tells a woman he loves her. I found it very realistic and its portrayal of this married couple was for me brutal but unflinching in its directness about the lives that we lead and the cages we build for ourselves. The second scene is an amazing shot of a character playing table tennis against an automatic opponent. It's a great shot. It's a shot that says so much. As it continues we as a viewer concentrate more on the character's face and what is written on it. Pain, anguish, fear and despair. A man so locked onto a path that he realises (perhaps in this scene) he is no longer able to return to normality. I waited for him to become exhausted but he never does and Haneke cuts the scene with him still playing, hoping perhaps the machine will break but not able to control what now controls him. As far as I know he may have gone on for hours more. A superb insight into a character's psyche encapsulated in one shot. A shocking ending rounds off a well constructed film that tries to explain why some of these events happen and does so in a thought-provoking way. There is never a dull moment in this film and I would recommend it to anyone as essential viewing. The film speaks for itself.
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