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The White Ribbon 2009 R CC

(136) IMDb 7.8/10
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When strange accidents occur in a German village, they gradually take on the character of a punishment ritual.

Christian Friedel, Ernst Jacobi
2 hours, 24 minutes

Available to watch on supported devices.

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Product Details

Genres Drama, International, Mystery
Director Michael Haneke
Starring Christian Friedel, Ernst Jacobi
Supporting actors Leonie Benesch, Ulrich Tukur, Ursina Lardi, Fion Mutert, Michael Kranz, Burghart Klaußner, Steffi Kühnert, Maria-Victoria Dragus, Leonard Proxauf, Levin Henning, Johanna Busse, Thibault Sérié, Josef Bierbichler, Gabriela Maria Schmeide, Janina Fautz, Enno Trebs, Theo Trebs, Rainer Bock
Studio Sony Pictures Classics
MPAA rating R (Restricted)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Rental rights 48 hour viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

130 of 137 people found the following review helpful By Chris Pandolfi on January 25, 2010
Format: DVD
Michael Haneke's "The White Ribbon" could be considered a mystery in that things happen for no apparent reason. The Doctor (Rainer Bock) breaks his arm after falling off his horse, which tripped over a wire strung between two trees. Not long after, someone abducts the eldest son of the Baron (Ulrich Tukur); he isn't found until the next morning, at which point it's discovered that he had been bound and beaten with a cane. A barn owned by the Pastor (Burghart Klaußner) is burned to the ground. The mentally challenged son of the Midwife (Susanne Lothar) is viciously attacked and almost blinded. Why is all of this happening? Are they acts of revenge? Are they punishments for the sin of weakness? Are they the beginnings of war, intolerance, and terrorism? Your guess is as good as mine. This movie isn't about solutions.

What is it about, then? The story takes place in the days before World War I, when authority was not questioned and life was lived according to much simpler routines. The setting is a German farming community, which has maintained stability by not upsetting the "natural order"; it was expected that the Baron would own the land, the men would have control over their women and children, and the peasants would not have the same rights as their superiors. The Pastor, for example, raises his children not to love God so much as fear Him, and he continuously instills the idea that they must feel guilty for everything that they do. So as to remind them of the path of righteousness from which they have strayed, he ties a white ribbon onto their arms - a symbol of purity.

But in spite of outward appearances, purity is not something to be found behind closed doors.
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101 of 108 people found the following review helpful By Gerard D. Launay on January 4, 2010
Or it should - for Best Foreign Film. The best way to describe it is to think of Bergman's "The Virgin Spring" updated to a small German Protestant town immediately before World War I. The film's is shot in austere black and white. One image might be the raw intense power of two candles burning...this will a mob burning down a barn later in the movie. It is all very unsettling and that is the raw power of the film.

Ostensibly the film is a story of accidents, deaths, suicides happening without explanation in this insulated religious village. Some can be accounted for by revenge and despair but others appear to have no explanation at all except that a cancer of distrust, hatred, repression, and (even)meanness is descending on the town. As we know (historically) this is the core group of people - who twenty years later - will be turning to National Socialism (Hitler) for answers. Yes, twenty years later the same persons will switch from white ribbons (totalitarian symbols of innocence) to black ribbons (totalitarian symbols of loyalty). Sociology and psychology still disappoint in providing reasons why humans act so cruelly to one another. The director Michael Haneke seizes upon that reality. He makes the film deliberately ambiguous as we watch a society disintegrate because the bonds of spiritual love and tolerance were never there in the first place.

This is a thinking person's film that seems to be directed more to the subconscious than the conscious. The return to black and white cinematography is integral and "very" effective. That technique allowed the film to move in waves of moods - in the way that Bergman's "The Seventh Seal" does.
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95 of 105 people found the following review helpful By Grigory's Girl on January 17, 2010
Format: DVD
I have read much about Michael Haneke, but have never seen a film of his until this one. Haneke is a genuinely polarising filmmaker, some thinking he's a great artist and others who think he's a shock entertainer with no talent. So I went to see what all the hoopla was about with this film, which many people are calling his best.

This is a great film.

The White Ribbon is a deeply haunting, cerebral, strange, rewarding film, one that will make you think for days afterwards (a critic reviewing this film said it would haunt you for days. Try weeks!). Shot in beautiful, shimmering black and white (in fact, this is some of the best photography in a film that I've ever seen), the story revolves around a German village just prior to WWI, and the strange, eerie, creepy, and unsettling things going on around it. In some ways, The White Ribbon is reminiscent of unsettling horror films like Dreyer's Vampyr and many J-horror films (like Kurosawa's Cure) where things are deliberately left unanswered and the loose ends really puzzle you on a very deep, subconscious level. Many films have loose ends but I don't think I've ever seen a film have as many loose ends as this one does, but that's a good thing. The film even starts with a narrator saying "I think it happened this way. I'm not really sure". There are many nasty things going on, and many have suggested this is due to the repressed, religious upbringing of the village, but I'm not sure. To Haneke's credit, he never answers these things directly, and he also doesn't answer them in interviews that he's done. This makes the film far more effective and deeply troubling. Even writing about the film now makes me uncomfortable.
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