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The White Ribbon (BLU-RAY)

The White Ribbon

Movie
Director(s): 
On Blu-Ray: 
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Grade:
B-
Running Time: 
144 mins

The inhabitants of the fictional German town of Eichwald lead incredibly sad and messed up lives. That’s the basic gist of The White Ribbon. Playing out like some sort of morality tale set in pre-World War I Germany, this is one depressing and unsettling film. The men in power in the village, namely a doctor, a pastor, and a baron, rule through manipulation and fear, while the children of the town appear to seethe with barely subdued rage just below the surface.

A series of bizarre accidents/happenings begin occurring in the town and before long, the pastor casts a wide net of guilt in the hopes of flushing out the culprits. Abuse and unnecessarily harsh punishments are meted out and things just go from bad to worse. The doctor verbally attacks his housekeeper while sexually abusing his own daughter, while the son of the pastor has his hands tied to the bed when his father discovers that he’s been touching himself.

QUALITY:

Fantastic. While it looks completely the part of a true period piece (the period in this case being 1913-1914 Germany), the sharpness and clarity of the picture reveal the true nature of the film’s birthday (released in 2009). The sound mix is also solid. It’s mostly a mix of dialogue and natural/ambient sound, without much in the way of a score. Given that it’s a German film, the main audio track is naturally German with English subtitles.

BONUS FEATURES:
The special features include a making of The White Ribbon, “my life” (a profile of director Michael Haneke), the film’s premiere at Cannes and an interview with the director. You’ll also get the theatrical trailer, as well as some other film previews.

All in all, this is a fairly unsettling movie. It’s incredibly well made, with good performances all around from the whole cast. The only ray of light is a young teacher (who functions as the narrator of the film) and his girlfriend (a nanny in the town). But the overall story and subject matter do not make for a light or enjoyable time. The White Ribbon is worth seeing at least once, as a parable about the power of guilt, shame, and hidden sins to completely destroy…but I doubt it’s something that you’ll be watching on a regular basis just for kicks.
 

Jeremy Hunt
Review by Jeremy Hunt
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