The White Ribbon ( ‘Das Weise band’) (2009)

Director: Michael Haneke

Cast: Christian Friedel, Ernst Jacobi, Leonie Benesch

Austrian film maker, Michael Haneke (Funny Games, Code Unknown, Cache/Hidden) continues his exploration of violence and its origins in society, with Golden Globe and Palme d’Or winner, The White Ribbon.

Mysterious and seemingly random acts of cruelty start plaguing a small village in northern Germany in the period before WW1. The narrator, an elderly tailor, reflects back on the events when he was a young school teacher in the village.

A rigid and suppressive world unfolds, led by a hierarchical triumvirate of pastor, doctor and baron. The teacher becomes suspicious of the pastor’s children, which eventually leads to a confrontation between him and the pastor. No guilty parties are brought to book though and the narrator eventually leaves the village, never to return, which further deepens the mystery of the events.

Haneke has described his film as a parable of “the origin of every type of terrorism, be it of political or religious nature.” Which makes the main theme just as topical today as when it is seen against the Zeitgeist that preceded WW1.

A great and thought provoking film.