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The White Ribbon (Das weisse Band) (2009)

tomatometer

85

Average Rating: 7.6/10
Reviews Counted: 136
Fresh: 116 | Rotten: 20

The White Ribbon effectively utilizes tension and a bleak atmosphere to deliver a thought-provoking examination of nascent fascism.

80

Average Rating: 7.5/10
Critic Reviews: 30
Fresh: 24 | Rotten: 6

The White Ribbon effectively utilizes tension and a bleak atmosphere to deliver a thought-provoking examination of nascent fascism.

audience

78

liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 89,100

My Rating

Movie Info

In a village in Protestant northern Germany, on the eve of World War I, the children of a church and school run by the village schoolteacher and their families experience a series of bizarre incidents that inexplicably assume the characteristics of a punishment ritual. Who could be responsible for such bizarre transgressions? Leonie Benesch, Josef Bierbichler, and Rainer Bock star in director Michael Haneke's Palm d'Or-winning period drama. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Jun 29, 2010

$2.1M

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All Critics (136) | Top Critics (30) | Fresh (116) | Rotten (20) | DVD (1)

As for Haneke's handling of the material, his directing is immaculate. Every moment is the product of a penetrating mind and a steady talent.

September 20, 2012 Full Review Source: The New Republic
The New Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The White Ribbon is a stark, contemplative and hauntingly brilliant film.

February 25, 2010 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Writer-director Michael Haneke doesn't pull any punches, but then he doesn't throw any wild ones, either. His filmmaking shows precisely the sort of obsession with control that the movie itself is denouncing. Interesting, you've got to admit.

February 19, 2010 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Haneke tells this tale a bit too patiently for my taste. But the metaphors are unmistakable, as is the power of the film's message.

February 17, 2010 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The White Ribbon lunges hungrily for serious art-film credibility. Don't be fooled.

February 12, 2010 Full Review Source: Washington Post | Comments (4)
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Haneke has dramatized his intellectual conceits in an uninvolving, snail-paced movie that illustrates its themes in an obvious, almost banal manner.

February 11, 2010 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

After reflecting on the film awhile, I found that I had been drawn into its beauty and its mystery too much not to give it at least a slight recommendation.

September 24, 2012 Full Review Source: Examiner.com
Examiner.com

This film is a total drag to watch. It is slow. It is dark. It is depressing, and it seems as though it is never going to end. It is torture to sit through this film. It runs 144 minutes and seems twice that long.

January 19, 2011 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope | Comments (4)
Laramie Movie Scope

The White Ribbon is Michael Haneke's masterpiece. It is not a movie about abstract concepts or a director's power over his characters - well, at least it's not just about those things.

October 21, 2010 Full Review Source: Quickflix
Quickflix

Un inquietante cuadro social, filmado en riguroso blanco y negro, y una reflexión sombría y perturbadora sobre el origen del mal, o al menos de cierto tipo de males.

October 7, 2010 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

The White Ribbon is a striking, in many ways indelible work, and it's tempting to be carried away by Haneke's craft and assurance as a filmmaker.

September 10, 2010 Full Review Source: The Stranger (Seattle, WA)

Up close, it's a blur of meticulous details that don't quite make sense; but step back and its towering ambitions become indelibly apparent.

August 26, 2010 Full Review Source: Flicks.co.nz
Flicks.co.nz

A direct and simple human lesson -- that negative reinforcement creates negative consequences.

July 17, 2010 Full Review Source: Window to the Movies
Window to the Movies

Haneke knows how violence seeps into every recess of our lives, and he evokes it not to titillate, but to engage and challenge

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

Both sexes suffer from what Elias Canetti identified in his book Crowds and Power as 'the sting,' a psychological hurt (bullying, abuse) that must be exorcised in reenactment. [Blu-ray]

July 5, 2010 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

Haneke makes his way through this complex and knotty subject matter with a staggeringly effortless grace. As an expression of philosophy, it's profound and thought-provoking; as a work of cinema, it is flawless.

July 4, 2010 Full Review Source: DCist

... while I appreciate... the unnerving atmosphere of punitive power and calculated cruelty under the carefully managed pose of piety, I find his sensibility sour and cynical...

July 1, 2010 Full Review Source: Seanax.com
Seanax.com

Executed at an incredibly high level of craft and with an off-putting degree of self-confidence.

June 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central
Film Freak Central

As with most of Michael Haneke's films, a chill hangs in the air of The White Ribbon, the constant threat of upheaval eventually lulling you into a tired state of alertness.

May 25, 2010 Full Review Source: Concrete Playground
Concrete Playground

Haneke has made a deeply unsettling and gravely beautiful film that tells us very little. But the performances are astonishing, and the faces of the children, caught in long, static close-ups, may haunt you for a long time.

May 10, 2010 Full Review Source: The Australian
The Australian

A tantalising, perhaps slightly frustrating film, but a very impressive one.

May 7, 2010 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

Unlike conventional thrillers, this film does not restore a moral order to the universe. Rather, it questions it. It must be seen.

May 7, 2010 Full Review Source: MovieTime, ABC Radio National
MovieTime, ABC Radio National

At his best, as he is with White Ribbon, Haneke's fusion of art and ideas is unsurpassed.

May 6, 2010 Full Review Source: sbs.com.au
sbs.com.au

These disturbing incidents pound the unsuspecting viewer into complete submission. The luminous beauty of the black-and-white cinematography framing the ugly world suggested here only serves to further shock the senses.

May 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Courier Mail (Australia)
Courier Mail (Australia)

Far from enjoyable escapism, The White Ribbon is nonetheless utterly compelling and quite beautiful in its unsettling presentation of this prosaic evil.

May 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald

Audience Reviews for The White Ribbon (Das weisse Band)

Michael Haneke has pushed the bounds of what is and could be considered going too far in the film medium, which is his whole mantra. He brings us The White Ribbon, something like if you took elements from The Crucible, Schindler's List, and Jesus Camp blended it together, and put it all in German with a drained out final image with a dash of fascism, unknown motives and religious fundamentalism. This extraordinarily stark and innovative film comments very boldly and brashly on "the origin of every type of terrorism, be it of political or religious nature." The acting is decidedly honest and quite life-like. The cinematography continues to add layers to the reality of the film and Haneke's direction couldn't be more appropriate to bring his screenplay to life. And the filmmaking style of this film is pure Haneke, utilizing long takes, tracking shots and manipulating the world in front of the camera to unsettle you and provoke thought, very few directors can achieve this multiple times, he achieved it with both renditions of his film Funny Games, and he most certainly did it here. Brava.
September 27, 2011
Matthew Roe
Matthew Roe

Super Reviewer

A nuanced, demanding film about small-town secrets that rivals the best stories of Alice Munro or William Faulkner, in which characters' lines are cutting, doom is just around the corner, and the individuals' respective stories continue to surprise as each reveals itself to be related to the others in larger frame, the life of a town (Eichwald) and the narrating school teacher. Great story, well told, and though it's lean (basically, one setting over one year, and a deservedly abrupt ending), there's a lot going on here, plot-wise and meaning-wise, with symbolism and metaphysical engagement to spare. Reminded me, too, of Hitchcock, in that the most horrific is the off-stage stuff, and for a reason that I hope is more than "because it's European and in black and white," Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal... and, though set in pre-WWI Germany, it's a story that has no trouble resonating today because of its (unfortunately) universal subject matter. A worthy Palme d'Or winner that moves slowly but stays captivating all the way. Definitely a film you should see.
September 24, 2011
danperry17

Super Reviewer

The White Ribbon is a dark, depressing account of human nature and innate, or learned, violence. Eerily beautiful, but the meanings and metaphors are too subtle, vague, and complex. Perhaps a metaphor to human nature itself? Enigmatic.
September 10, 2011
Jan Marc Macababayao

Super Reviewer

Michael Haneke's long, slow study of oppression and retribution is a real wonder. It's not an easy one to sit through, but I found it to be very compelling and worth seeing.

The story concerns a Protestant village in Northern Germany on the eve of World War I, and the series of odd incidents that occur there over the course of a year or so. It's sort of mysterious, but not a complete enigma. It's not really a visceral or scary film, but the mood, tone, and atmosphere are that of dread, uneasiness, and creepiness.

Credit for that goes to the gorgeous black and white cinematography, and two of Haneke's trademarks: lack of a film score, and numerous long, static shots. The narration also adds some nice insights and helps get to right mood going. The bulk of the unsavory stuff occurs offscreen, but even then, this film is really eerie.

I liked that this was a period piece (especially of a time not often seen in films), and what it was about (the themes, that is). I'm not gonna lie though. I checked my watch more than once. However, I'm not going to say that I got bored, because I always found something to enjoy, even if the film does seem a little draggy at times.

Like a lot of Haneke's work seems to be, this is a film that's not for all tastes, and seems to really divide audiences. I happen to really dig it, even if I don't want to watch it again anytime soon, or ever. I can really appreciate the artistry and the look at rural life during an interesting time in an interesting place.
July 23, 2011
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

    1. The Narrator: I don't know if the story that I want to tell you, reflects the truth in every detail. Much of it I only know by hearsay, and a lot of it remains obscure to me even today, and I must leave it in darkness. Many of these questions remain without answer. But I believe I must tell of the strange events that occurred in our village, because they may cast a new light on some of the goings-on in this country...
    – Submitted by Lenny P (2 years ago)
View all quotes (1)

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Latest News on The White Ribbon (Das weisse Band)

December 30, 2009:
Critics Consensus: The White Ribbon Is Certified Fresh
The final week of the year brings no wide releases, but Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or winner The White...
May 26, 2009:
Cannes 2009: RT's 10 Must-See Movies
The 62nd Cannes Film Festival has officially wrapped, with most commentators agreeing that this...
May 24, 2009:
Cannes 2009: The Tomato Report - Haneke's The White Ribbon Scoops Palme d?Or
Michael Haneke took Cannes' top honour tonight as his film, The White Ribbon, won the prestigious...

Foreign Titles

  • Das weiße Band (DE)
  • Le Ruban blanc (FR)
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