Austrian director Michael Haneke has a knack of getting under the viewer’s skin – as anyone still in therapy after a viewing of Funny Games or Hidden will attest. His new movie, a period drama filmed in austere black and white, isn’t as overtly disturbing as those earlier films, but it’s another chilling, unsettling tale that lingers in the mind.
This year’s Palme d’Or winner, The White Ribbon is set in a small Protestant village in northern Germany in the months leading up to the outbreak of the First World War. Seemingly tranquil, the village witnesses a series of troubling events. Malicious hands would seem to be at work, but whose?
Haneke is typically elusive, but he does create an indelible portrait of a repressed, authoritarian society in which the sins of the fathers are being laid upon the children. Some see here the breeding ground for Hitler and the Nazis. I’m not convinced, but whatever you read into the film, it remains a gripping and thought-provoking drama.
On general release from 13 November.
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