Friday 5 March 2010

The White Ribbon

Haneke says the purpose of art is to ask questions, not to give answers and he does his best to live up to that here. It takes a lot to keep my attention for 2 hours and 25 minutes and in this case I was rapt.

What happens is a series of cruel events, all the more disturbing for occurring off screen. The overt question is ‘who is doing it?’ But that question is just the narrative. The real question is why? And beyond that, where will it lead and who is responsible? There is a lot more going on here than a whodunnit. The whole point of the film is to provoke you to ask questions so I’m not going to venture any answers. It is easy enough to construct a hypothesis about the historical and political context, but it is the psychology that Haneke is exploring. The actions and omissions of the people whose roles are the spiritual leader, the healer and the teacher are surely not happenstance.

Beautifully shot, perfectly paced, deeply disturbing, I'll see it again, and soon, though I doubt I’ll get any answers.

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