The White Ribbon | Chicago Reader

The White Ribbon

Rated R 144 minutes 2009

Michael Haneke's black-and-white period drama, which won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes festival in 2009, has been described as a treatise on the root causes of German fascism. I'll leave that to the historians, but there's no denying this is a coldly commanding tale in which Haneke's signature obsessions—bourgeois control, sexual repression, emotional cruelty, cathartic violence—simmer quietly as subtext before bursting into the open in the final reels. On the eve of World War I, a northern village seems quiet and sedate but secretly roils with, as one character puts it, "malice, envy, apathy, and brutality." The title refers to the custom of a strict father who's respected in the community: after he's viciously caned his children, his wife ties a white ribbon on each of them to remind them of their newly won innocence and purity.

Film Credits

Official Site:

Director: Michael Haneke

Producer: Stefan Arndt, Veit Heiduschka, Margaret Ménégoz, Andrea Occhipinti and Michael Katz

Cast: Christian Friedel, Leonie Benesch, Ulrich Tukur, Ursina Lardi, Burghart Klaussner, Steffi Kühnert, Josef Bierbichler, Gariela Schmeide, Rainer Bock, Susanne Lothar, Maria-Victoria Dragus, Leonard Proxauf, Janina Fautz, Eddy Grahl and Ernst Jacobi

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