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The White Ribbon [Blu-ray] (2009)

Michael Haneke  |  Unrated |  Blu-ray
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Directors: Michael Haneke
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Black & White, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
  • DVD Release Date: June 29, 2010
  • Run Time: 144 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00386OWUC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,196 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The White Ribbon [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

Special Features

Making of The White Ribbon
My Life
Cannes Film Festival Premiere
An Interview with Michael Haneke

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

On the eve of World War I, strange accidents in a small Protestant village in Northern Germany involve the children and teenagers of a choir run by the schoolteacher and their families. The abused and suppressed children of the villagers seem to be at the heart of this mystery as these events gradually take on the character of a punishment ritual.

Like a Twilight Zone episode directed by Antonioni, The White Ribbon weaves an unsettling and enigmatic spell. Michael Haneke's film is set just before World War I in a village in northern Germany, where a series of strange occurrences take place over several months. These occurrences are sinister and cruel and often involve the children of the village--not merely as victims (although child abuse seems to be a far-from-isolated event) but also as perpetrators. At least that's the way it appears. Nothing is completely spelled out in Haneke's scheme, which hints and insinuates and thoroughly gets under the viewer's skin over the course of 144 edgy minutes. We might notice the children are of an age that will make them mature participants in the horror of Germany in the 1930s and '40s, but even this is left as an unemphasized point. Since Haneke is an expert at denying explicit conclusions for his projects (see also Caché and Funny Games for more on the subject), we shouldn't be surprised that he withholds the answers to the questions he poses, or that the film is even more powerful because of this withholding. Adding to the effect is Christian Berger's Oscar-nominated black-and-white cinematography, which has a ghostly quality appropriate to the topic. In the end, all the strange happenings of the village are absorbed into the town's rhythm of life--which might be the most disturbing conclusion of all. --Robert Horton

Stills from The White Ribbon (Click for larger image)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
119 of 126 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Village of the Damned January 25, 2010
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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95 of 102 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Is Going to win the Oscar in 2010 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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90 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, strange, and eerie...a great film... January 17, 2010
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars horror person
its been awhile but this is a good movie I do know that
Published 23 days ago by Annie L. Dawson-taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant But Disturbing Movie
A movie not to be enjoyed or appreciated by everyone. It did drag a bit towards the end making it a temptation not to see it through to the end. Read more
Published 1 month ago by lydiadugan
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating human study, that is at least 40 minutes ...
Fascinating human study, that is at least 40 minutes too long. Same story could have made it's one point in 90 minutes.
Published 1 month ago by John R. Sullivan
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece!
This movie gave me insights in the childhood of my parents and the origins of both World Wars. A Masterpiece!
Published 1 month ago by Thomas
3.0 out of 5 stars The White Ribbon is a thoughtful film that is carried ...
The White Ribbon is a thoughtful film that is carried along by a series of mysterious events. As the Maltin movie guide states, much is left undeclared, merely implied.
Published 2 months ago by W. Riedell
3.0 out of 5 stars but did not like the ambiguous ending
Was interesting, to a point, but did not like the ambiguous ending.
Published 2 months ago by Amy Wilborn
5.0 out of 5 stars Unwittingly preparing for the Third Reich.
Seems to be about people who do not observe, who do not learn, and who will not listen--a potent mix of apathy that lead to the Nazi takeover of the country in 1933.
Published 3 months ago by Straubing
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 3 months ago by E. Castaneda
5.0 out of 5 stars Not all bad people are held accountable for their actions
The film begins with the narrator explaining that he hopes his story will help us understand what Germany was like right before WW1 and the film ends abruptly with the news of the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Dan Harlow
4.0 out of 5 stars Good if you "get" it for what it is
If you understand that this is not a U.S. film and does not have the story structure that most of us U.S. folks are used to, nor the attention-deficit-indulging fast motion of U.S. Read more
Published 3 months ago by tommo_66
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Topic From this Discussion
German Language??
The sound of the voices of the featured actors is important, even in a language that is not your first. And have you been possessed by some anal-retentive Germanic spirit - trying to deny subtitled versions to those who might want them??? verboten?? Vielleicht Du sollst verboten sein....
Feb 26, 2010 by S. Nathe |  See all 5 posts
scratched and stained disc Be the first to reply
The White Ribbon Release Date in the US??? Be the first to reply
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