Geoff Andrew on The White Ribbon

Set in a north German village in 1913, Michael Haneke's Cannes Palme d'or-winner explores how the community is shaken by a series of events as unexpected as they are cruel.

Though both the culprits and the motives behind the initial acts of malice remain a mystery, it is clear that some of the village adults are concerned by what they see as poor discipline on the part of their children - a generation which, we may recall, will be raising its own young in a couple of decades time. Superbly shot in black and white, performed to perfection by a cast of professionals and non-professionals, written and directed with a miniaturist's attention to detail, Haneke's film is a profoundly revealing, resonant study of a seemingly prosperous society - proudly conservative, inward-looking, bitterly paranoid and still, frankly, feudal - teetering on the brink of change. Dazzlingly intelligent, and utterly gripping from start to finish.



 

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