Magazine article New Internationalist

The White Ribbon

Magazine article New Internationalist

The White Ribbon

Article excerpt

The White Ribbon (137 minutes)

directed and written by Michael Haneke

In a small village in Germany, just before the First World War, a doctor is severely injured when a hidden tripwire pulls down his horse. Scene by scene we get something of the context and build a picture of village life - in private homes, but also at school, in the street, in church.

There are more nasty incidents, and there may be a pattern. A labourer's wife dies after falling through a rotten floor in the landlord's barn. Later the barn is burnt to the ground. The pastor tongue-lashes children at school - simply for being noisy between classes - and singles out his daughter who faints with shame. Later, the caged bird in his study is crucified on a pair of scissors.

Gradually it becomes clearer. Haneke is not weaving together conventional tales, with beginnings, middles and ends. …

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