Sunday, August 03, 2014

The White Ribbon

I finished up this Michael Haneke movie last night.  It's the kind of film I haven't been watching much of lately.  Will Farrell did not make an appearance.  Black and white, starkly beautiful, the story of a small German town in the lead-up to WWI and the elemental violence simmering constantly just below the surface, breaking out with surprising frequency.

Makes a nice contrast with Downton Abbey, the early seasons of which chronicle much the same era. Downton is still a favorite, to be sure, but it's a lot of wish-fulfillment about how we would like to believe things were back in the day.  Yes, there's some violence there, a pretty nasty rape, a little murder, perhaps, but not so much.  Mostly lush greens, nice diction, and human kindness.

All in all, The White Ribbon is a strong film, well worth watching.  Haneke has the courage to hold fast to the mysteries, to not cave in to the temptation to wrap everything up nicely at the end with, well, a white ribbon.  There's lots of violence going on, none of it onscreen. (anti-spoiler alert) None of the films major mysteries is resolved.  WWI comes, and it is all washed away. Haneke could not dispense with the comfort of a moral center.  Our narrator, the village teacher, marries his rosy-cheeked sweetheart at the end, they move away and live happily ever after.  Which is fine.  I'm glad they moved away.

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