The White Ribbon [Blu-Ray] Michael Haneke

The White Ribbon [Blu-Ray] Michael Haneke
Amongst the vast offerings of supplemental material on the Blu-Ray release of Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon, both the uniquely crafted 40-minute "Behind the Scenes" featurette and the Cannes premiere footage elaborate on the Austrian misanthrope's intentions in making the film. Set in a small village in Northern Germany just before WWI, a bizarre series of accidents and violent acts implicate the strictly governed children, with the victims receiving a form of punishment for abject moral behaviour. With the flawless, monochromatic cinematography that sets the tone for the black & white thinking portrayed within, along with the geographic and historical placement of the film, it would be tempting to reduce it to a fascist parable, showing that rigid thinking and assimilation will ultimately lead to world wars and concentration camps. But what is evident here, and is further asserted by the interviews included, is that it's more than an implication of "German" thinking leading to WWII. No, it's about the danger of strict dogma and mass adherence to an ideal ultimately leading to hatred of difference, violence and terrorism. The children in The White Ribbon are harshly forced to assimilate to puritanical ideals, punished for any sort of deviation, be it behavioural, sexual or ethical, as deemed by elders that don't follow by the same code. Resultantly, they act on their beliefs in unison, unable to forgive or overlook those that don't adhere to their collective ethical code, which is something we can see even today in world politics. Beyond this incisive and insightful slight of what is currently considered "normal" developmental values, Haneke has constructed a gorgeous film of technical wonder. The deliberate structure of the film ― from long, contemplative shots to sharp, specific dialogue to icy performances ― shows a master at the top of his game, making a film that is nearly flawless. Moreover, for those curious about the man, and how his fears motivate the stories that he tells, there is a compelling and well-made 50-minute documentary about him included with the Blu-Ray titled "My Life." (Sony)