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

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Movie Info

Using their social status and harsh punishments, a baron (Ulrich Tukur), a doctor (Rainer Bock) and a pastor (Burghart Klaussner) rule over a small German village. One day, the doctor falls off his horse after it trips over a wire strung between two trees. More pranks follow, seemingly without reason, all directed at the village's upper class and growing increasingly more brutal with time. There are no suspects, but a local schoolteacher (Christian Friedel) has his suspicions.

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Critic Reviews for The White Ribbon

All Critics (149) | Top Critics (53) | Fresh (128) | Rotten (21)

  • Haneke's rigorous control of his material is so unerring, and the acting so eerily and chillingly perfect, it works simply as a portrait of this community at this particular time.

    August 30, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Suffice it to say that I don't understand the rave reviews that this picture received, and I was not a happy camper when I left the theater.

    January 13, 2018 | Full Review…
  • 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…
  • 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 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…
  • A tantalising, perhaps slightly frustrating film, but a very impressive one.

    May 7, 2010 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • 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 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The White Ribbon

  • Oct 08, 2015
    The White Ribbon immediately draws comparison with films by Ingmar Bergman and Lars Von Trier. Unlike in Bergman's films, here the black-and-white often feels desaturated or washed out. Unlike in von Trier's films (which I sometimes like even while disliking them), the darkness is unpoetical. -- I must admit I turned off the film at about the 90 minute mark, not because the abuse featured was fantastically horrorific but rather continually degrading. There was not much of a plot and no sense of mystery as to what was going on. There was no compelling reason to continue watching.
    Robert B Super Reviewer
  • Jun 24, 2014
    Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon, is shot in stunning black and white, fittingly set in a small German village shortly prior to World War I. The story is narrated by the most humanist and sincere character the school teacher, even though the themes of the tales hardly match his. The sadistic and cruel acts depicted usually involve the more noble people of the town and/or the children. Then there's more mysterious and crueler events, mainly the harsh torture of children. A common theme in the film is punishment, chiefly unjust punishment, it seems that the source of these vile acts is from some sort of punisher. The film keeps the audience guessing, trying to remember every small detail- and there are many- to solve the puzzle. The film towards the end goes through intense interrogations and build-up but ultimately leaves an open end. Very similar to Haneke's earliereffortCache (although The White Ribbon this is way more of a drama, than a thriller). The mystery shows how the audience, similar to the characters, is always searching for a scapegoat. Which makes sense that this film is set right before the first world war, even though it feels much more like a prequel to the second world war. 3 stars
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • Mar 30, 2014
    Though its central narrative is compelling, The White Ribbon's runtime is severely over-extended by dull side-stories having little to do with the film's stronger components.
    Isaac H Super Reviewer
  • Apr 10, 2013
    In a film worthy of Bergman, we have dark themes in a rural community explored by Haneke. The White Ribbon shows us what happens when zealots are allowed to impose standards on a family and a community.
    John B Super Reviewer

The White Ribbon (Das weisse Band) Quotes

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