The White Ribbon

Don't let anyone tell you too much about this spellbinder from Austrian writer-director Michael Haneke (Caché). Shot in stunning black-and-white by the gifted Christian Berger, The White Ribbon is a toxic blossom of images that burn into your memory. In pre-World War I Germany, a farm village is beset by accidents that may not be accidents. The Baron (Ulrich Tukur) dominates the village economy, just as the Pastor (Burghart Klaussner) holds brutal sway over the morality of the villagers and their families. It's on the faces of the children that Haneke tells his story of corruption and the grip of fascism. This haunting film never pushes itself on you. It trusts you to suss out the horror that lies beneath the veneer of innocence. You'll be knocked for a loop.

From The Archives Issue 309: January 24, 1980