The White Ribbon (2009) – Michael Haneke

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There is not one political bone in Michael Haneke’s body of work. His superficial social satires and political allegories are pure fantasy and melodrama. His characters are always poorly developed and their motivations never researched. So why does he remain celebrated by foreign film enthusiasts?

At their most deprived, his scenes of sadism are laughable, but he offends specially when using child actors to signify human cruelty. This misguided grand guignol fable includes pedophilia, anti-masturbatory punishment, and disciplinary abuse, inflicted upon children by stern-looking adult brutes.

As a representation of “the children who grew up to be Nazis”, its rhetoric is oversimplified. Mere religious guilt does not imply political violence. Historical events become poorly understood.

The narrator is an effete school teacher, still single at age 31. He is to wed a young nurse whom he sees only once every six months. When they meet after a long separation he first comments on how beautiful she looks now that she has lost “some weight”. What nerve, even in the utmost intimacy of personal relationships Haneke strikes with an iron fist and reveals himself to be what he criticizes.

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Categories: Notes

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