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.
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From July, 1913 to the outbreak of World War I, a series of incidents take place in a German village. A horse trips on a wire and throws the rider; a woman falls to her death through rotted planks; the local baron's son is hung upside down in a mill; parents slap and bully their children; a man is cruel to his long-suffering lover; another sexually abuses his daughter. People disappear. A callow teacher, who courts a nanny in the baron's household, narrates the story and tries to investigate the connections among these accidents and crimes. What is foreshadowed? Are the children holy innocents? God may be in His heaven, but all is not right with the world; the center cannot hold. Written by
In an interview with the French newspaper "Le Monde" on 10/20/09, published on 10/21/09, Michael Haneke has explicitly and unequivocally declared his intentions in making the movie "The White Ribbon":
He intended to make a movie about the roots of evil. He said that he believed that the environment of extreme, punitive and sexually repressive protestantism in Germany, has laid the groundwork for Fascism and Nazism. He also said that he saw the same patterns developing in fundamentalist Muslim societies today, and that it is those societies that today were spawning terrorists and suicide bombers. Finally, he expressed the sentiment that "The White Ribbon" is a movie against ALL extremisms.
Michael Haneke has directed his vision in a very masterful and artful way: the cinematography, the acting, and the script are all superb.
The only problem I have is with the vision itself: The environment certainly plays a role, but to explain evil exclusively as the product of one's environment is simplistic and goes against common sense observation: The majority of people on this earth have grown up under repressive regimes and yet have NOT turned out to become murderers, mass murderers, terrorists or suicide bombers. Something is missing in the equation.
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