The White Ribbon (Blu-ray)
THE WHITE RIBBON is about a small village in North Germany just before World War I where some strange events begin to happen. Narrated by the town’s schoolteacher, the strange acts first involve a wire tripping the doctor’s horse with him on it. While he is away at the hospital more and more life endangering accidents keep happening. This religiously conservative town grows more and more nervous of the mysterious events, which affect the jobs and relationships within. The white ribbon is a symbol meant as a reminder of innocence and purity. The ribbon was often tied to a child as a tactic used to reprimand them for being disobedient or misbehaving. After a deeper look we find out that perhaps the adults may need to heed their own advice and may not be as well behaved, as they want their seemingly suspicious problematic children to believe.
Director Michael Haneke is quite the impressive director. His previous work was 2005’S critically acclaimed French film HIDDEN and both versions of FUNNY GAMES. He has a patient style that allows the action or lack there of tell the story, letting the audience use their imagination. Some of the most intense scenes happened behind closed doors. He keeps the camera following the characters but then plants the camera outside the room focusing on quiet simple items like a door, picture or mirror as the sounds from the other room carry on. The tactic creates a feeling inside the viewer like an unwanted guest that is witnessing too much of the families personal dealings. We don’t get the whole story but we just happen to catch a little piece of how the family operates and we can’t quite intervene. The quietness of the film, dwelling on the small moments creates a very powerful intensity. One of the most horrific verbal abusive acts I have ever witnessed on screen works because it is done in a quiet collected manner.
The black and white cinematography is exquisite. The authenticity and impact of the film would have been lost if done in color. The entire look was absolutely gorgeous and authentic. All the acting was phenomenal, specifically from all the children actors who seem to have a grace and wisdom beyond their years. They handled all the emotion and questions with genuine care. Their natural intuitiveness captures the heart and essence of the film.
This is a hauntingly dark film, which cleverly masks itself like the village as simple and ordinary. The scary thing is that these terrible situations the film exposes are becoming dangerously ordinary. I had some questions about the choice of ending but I quickly realized it had stuck with me deeply and the quiet mystery of the film, never knowing the full story is what makes it so impactful. Whether you like it or not, great art leaves a memorable lasting impression and THE WHITE RIBBON is a great piece of work that I will not soon forget.
Video: (1080p High Definition 1.85:1) Great quality. Clean as a whistle in the visual department, which helped take in the beautiful cinematography.
Audio: (5.1 DTS-HD) Very good sound. A very quiet film with mostly words spoken, which I had to read subtitles for anyway.
Making of The White Ribbon (38:33): Shows the process during a few of the scenes. Haneke is very candid when directing the actors, extras, hair, costumes and art direction. We also get a few screen tests of the child actors who were phenomenal.
My Life (50:07): This is an interesting insight into Michael Haneke as a person and director gather interviews from himself and actors he has worked with clips from many of his films. If you are a fan of Haneke, I highly recommend this feature.
Cannes Film Fesival Premiere (18:36): A long table interview with the director and actors who all speak talk about how great the experience was, followed by the actual winning of the award and speech at the ceremony.
An Interview with Michael Haneke (14:08): The director speaks about the process and working with the young actors.
Theatrical trailer and Previews