“The White Ribbon (Das weiße Band)” is a 2009 German drama film set in a German village just before World War I, which depicts the darkness of mind and violence hiding in their daily lives in an ascetic and minimalist style, like Robert Bresson.
Directed by Michael Haneke. Black & white. 144 minutes.
Set in a northern German small village from 1913 until the 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which led to World War I.
A man, who had worked as a school teacher in the village, looks back on that time.
In the village where a baron (lord of the manor), a pastor and a doctor rule the people, strange incidents occur in series: The doctor hurts himself badly falling from his horse due to a wire trap. The wife of a peasant farmer falls to her death during work. The baron’s cabbage field is damaged by someone. The baron’s son goes missing.
It follows that the village people become ripped apart by mistrust and violence.
The original German title is “Das weiße Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Ribbon, a German Children’s Story)”.
That time is the childhood of the generation who lived as adults during the period of Nazism (1933–1945). The film depicts that the children, who grew up under the regimented education of Protestant ethic, start using violence as strict enforcement of justice. Haneke thinks of it as a sign of the rise of Nazi Germany.
The film won many awards, such as the Palme d’Or of the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, and the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.