The White Ribbon (2009)

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*. Shot in colour and then altered to black and white. Why? I wonder what was gained by doing this. Was it cheaper? Roger Ebert suggests that perhaps black-and-white film stock was hard to find. Hm.
*. I don’t know if the de-colourization process has this particular effect, but the whites in particular are incredibly stark. The snow really is dazzling (as the narrator remarks). Women’s faces look like ghostly pale blotches above their dark dresses.
*. Like a lot of Haneke’s work, this seems a film meant to be analyzed and discussed more than enjoyed. There are a lot of windows and doorways: symbols of witness? Transition?
*. Cruelty (again, like a lot of Haneke’s work) is the essential element, with hypocrisy a close second. I mean, does the Doctor have to screw his sister-in-law right on top of what seems to be a shrine to his dead wife?
*. A return to the Village of the Damned? Of course Haneke isn’t saying, at least any more than he would say at the end of Cache. But when it comes to the origins of evil both movies put the blame on the parents. Here the chief villain is repression rather than intolerance, but both are means of defending false bourgeois values, which I take it are what Haneke sees as the real problem.

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*. What are we to make of the “dawn of the First World War” angle? That the seeds of that conflict were sown in communities such as Eichwald? That the younger generation and their latent violence were about to be sacrifices made to the hypocrisy of their parents? That this wretched society is about to get what it deserves?
*. Roger Ebert: “It’s too simple to say the film is about the origins of Nazism. If that were so, we would all be Nazis.” Wait. Who said anything about Nazis? Oh yeah, this is a movie about Germans behaving badly. So it’s not the First World War we’re talking about after all.

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