Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The White Ribbon

WORTH-IT: (Michael Haneke) Nominated for best Foreign Film and Cinematography this year at the Oscars and winner of The Palm D'Or at Cannes, The White Ribbon is clearly something to see. It's the story of a small German town, a community seemingly simple and serene, filled with homely and vanilla people. No one has more than they need. Everyone knows each other. For the most part, life is a routine. From our perspective, it seems like the routine has been the same for hundreds of years, until an ill-intended practical joke sets off a series of horrific and unexplained acts violence. The unexplained hatred hints at its origins throughout the movie (a vengeful farmer, a jealous father, joking children, etc.) revealing that even in the simplest of societies, human nature remains the same and, above all, emotions rule. Haneke marks his forte with the unexplained crimes and pointing fingers, persuading the audience to believe one thing over another before showing them that they're wrong. As he does in all his film, he piles up pounds of evidence, all pointing in different directions, leaving you to solve the mystery for yourself. Or, not to solve it at all. Haneke's unique stories never seem to have an clear ending, or even a clear morale. He simply illustrates humanity, bringing unspoken circumstances to the surface. Haneke's work isn't for everyone. His black-hole endings will surely frustrate some viewers, and in this particular film, the simplistic characters and monochromatic canvas will leave some feeling slighted. But, I encourage those who appreciate a spooky and timeless tale of unsolved mystery and murder to settle into this black and white and have fun trying to put his pieces together.

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