The White Ribbon (Das weisse Band, Germany/Austria/France/Italy, 2009)

Paying obedience

Paying obedience

Probably the most critically lauded movies of the year The White Ribbon left me bored after 30 seconds and I was faced by another 288 such units of boredom. You should probably stop reading now… as my critical faculties are obviously atrophying with age: how can you make a decision about a film in 30 seconds. Well: I didn’t like the cinematography or the voice over and the execrable CGI of the horse falling… Overall the experience for me was of a badly shot Bergman film.

I agree with Henry K Miller, in the December issue of Sight and Sound: ‘the film is left as a catalogue of unpleasant events with no particular insights to impart.’ Its portentousness was overwhelming but if all it had to say was that fascism had its roots in feudal society then two and a half hours is too long to make that point in such a feeble way. I’m not anti-Haneke, Code Unknown (Code inconnu: Recit incomplet de divers voyages, Fr-Ger-Rom, 2000) is terrific, but Cache (2004) did nothing for me. His cinema now seems to strain for significance: it looks profound but any meaning is merely trite.

To emphasise the vileness of the doctor by having him as pedophile (I know it’s not certain but if he isn’t then what’s the point?) suggests to me that Haneke is straining to shock (and Funny Games, Ger-Fr-It, 1997, was shocking) and, unfortunately, the sexual abuse of children in cinema doesn’t shock any more.

I guess I’ll have to bow to the majority for this Palme d’Or winner but I thought it was crap.

2 Responses

  1. oh how the mighty have fallen – Haneke has morphed into the emotionless and pretentious art cinema auteur. Badly shot Bergman film – this sounds terrible, perhaps even more terrible than John Cusack’s dumbfounded facial expression in 2012.

  2. […] become a cliché if it is wheeled out too often; I first felt this when seeing Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon. However, in the film Clio Barnard does manage to add to our (my) understanding of the lingering […]

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