Film: The White Ribbon
"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."
"The village is always the easiest model to use to cut through society. You can show the hierarchy of a society in one place."The White Ribbon (Das Weiße Band - Eine Kindergeschichte) is a 2009 German Drama/Mystery film by Michael Haneke. Strange events happen in a small village in the north of Germany during the years just before World War I, which seem to be ritual punishment. The abused and suppressed children of the villagers seem to be at the heart of this mystery.
—Michael Haneke, the director
This film provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: The entire plot revolves around parental brutality, repression and abuse against children.
- Conspicuous CG: The horse tripping on the wire is wildly out of place with the rest of the film.
- Crapsack World: Systematic repression, child abuse, hierarchy, deprivation, and a grand total of about two sympathetic adult characters... and it's only going to get worse.
- Creepy Child: The only exception seems to be the Pastor's youngest
- Deliberately Monochrome: The movie was originally shot in color and then altered to black and white in post-production in order to create a distance from a false naturalism that suggests we know exactly what happened.
- Denied Food as Punishment: The Pastor denies the whole family dinner for his eldest two children's sin of staying out late.
- Enfant Terrible: Near the end of the film, the schoolteacher theorises that the crimes might have been committed by the village children. The pastor bars him from investigating further, so we never find out if he's right or not.
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Most of the adults are not given names in the film, instead being called Pastor, Baron, Steward, etc. This includes the narrator, who is only known as The School Teacher.
- First-Person Peripheral Narrator: The story is told from the view point of a secondary character (the school teacher). He admits that many details he only knows by hearsay.
- Ignored Enamored Underling: The midwife would do anything for the doctor's love.
- Jerkass: The doctor towards the midwife.
- McGuffin: The crimes. Ultimately it's not about whodunit, but how a society will set itself up for evil.
- Only Sane Man: The school teacher seems to be the only adult in the town without some dark secret or fanatical viewpoint. Though of course, he is the one narrating the story...
- Parental Incest: The doctor and his daughter.
- Replacement Goldfish: When Piepsi the songbird dies, the Pastor's youngest offers the bird he has nursed to health to replace him. Because his father seemed so sad.
- Schoolmarm: The narrator is a male example.
- Silent Credits: There is no music or other sounds during the closing credits.
- Town with a Dark Secret: A village with an unsolved mystery.
- Unreliable Narrator: Possibly.
- The Unsolved Mystery: We never learn who committed the crimes, leaving us with No Ending.