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The White Ribbon

Michael Haneke
Das weiße Band
Austria, France, Germany 2009 / 154’

In The White Ribbon, winner of the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival, Michael Haneke creates a portrait of German villagers at the turn of 1913 and 1914. He depicts their everyday hard work and their festivals. But among their routine activities, organised by the farming calendar, the director finds disturbing events, disclosing more and more dark mysteries. When a group of children go across the village, you can feel terror on the screen.

Director of such works as Funny Games, The Piano Player and Hidden, Haneke keeps depriving his audience from the sense of security. With the black and white cinematography and slow, hypnotising rhythm, he creates a distance between the film's characters and its audience. He makes the spectators watch coldly the moral decay of a community of modest protestants. He manages to record on celluloid film all the hatred, intolerance and cruelty being imperceptibly born, as if on a margin of a common life, suppressed and hidden, but leading actually to a tragedy.

It's no coincidence that the film is set in the second decade of the 20th century. The Austrian director reminds us of how deep the origins of totalitarianism reach, that this system did not come to being suddenly at rallies or political manifestations. Its seeds lie deep in the process of upbringing, in people, in their way of thinking and perceiving the world around them. At the beginning of the 21st century, The White Ribbon seems to be a warning. Haneke leaves his audience with the question: can we draw any conclusions from history?

Krzysztof Kwiatkowski

Michael Haneke

Born in 1942 in Munich. His mother was an actress, his father both actor and director. Soon after the WWII the family moved to settle in Vienna. Michael Haneke studied psychology, philosophy and theatrology. He was a film critic, and worked in theatres and television. His big screen debut in 1989 was The Seventh Continent. After eight years came his first international success with Funny Games. The position of the master of European cinema was ensured with such films as Code Unknown…, The Piano Teacher and Hidden. Many of his films were presented in Cannes, where they obtained The Golden Palm, Jury Special Prize, Special Mention for directing or FIPRESCI Prize. He received several nominations for European Film Awards.

Selected filmography:

1989 Der Siebente Kontinent / The Seventh Continent

1992 Benny's Video

1994 71 Fragmente einer Chronologie des Zufalls / 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance

1997 Funny Games

2001 La Pianiste / The Piano Teache

2005 Caché / Hidden

2007 Funny Games U.S.

2009 Das weiße Band / A White Ribbon

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