Director: Michael Haneke. Cast: Christian Friedel, Leonie Benesch, Burghart Klaußner. 144 min. Rated R. Austria/Germany/France/Italy. Drama.
I'm forming a love-hate relationship with Michael Haneke. I loved his Cache, hated his Funny Games, but The White Ribbon left me dumbfounded. The overlong black-and-white story of a small pre-WW I German village, actually gives a very clear picture of how WW II came to be. Unlike movies offering a cozy nostalgic feeling of some long lost good old days, this ultra-dark picture of a certain generation is extremely difficult to relate to - and nevertheless leaves you disturbed. Only for die-hard movie fans; but if you're one of them, at the end, you'll wake up in a daze.
Update: I have a habit of always reading reviews after I've seen a movie (and after writing my review!). I just read Roger Ebert's incredible interpretation of the movie, which although slightly undermines my above-mentioned Nazism theory of the movie, is ingeniously put:
"... It's too simple to say the film is about the origins of Nazism. If that were so, we would all be Nazis. It is possible to say that when the prevention of evil becomes more important than the preservation of freedom, authoritarianism grows. If we are to prevent evil, someone must be in charge. The job naturally goes to those concerned with enforcing order. Therefore, all disorder is evil and must be prevented, and that's how the interests of the state become more important than the interests of the people.
"I wonder if Haneke's point is that we grow so disturbed by danger that we will surrender freedom -- even demand to. Do we feel more secure in an orderly state? Many do. Then a tipping point arrives, and the Berlin Wall falls, or we see the Green Revolution in Iran. The problem, as philosophers have noted, is that revolutionaries grow obsessed with enforcing their revolution, and the whole process begins again."