10 January, 2010

The Duchess Observes . . .

"The White Ribbon" (Das Weisse Band), a Film by Michael Haneke

The winner of the Palme D'Or at the 62d Cannes Film Festival is the film "The White Ribbon," or Das Weisse Band, directed by the Austrian filmmmaker Michael Haneke. It was first on The Duchess's post-tennis, double bill agenda yesterday at the Landmark on Pico.

"The White Ribbon" was released in New York and Los Angeles by distributor Sony Pictures Classic on December 30, and so widespread U.S. buzz is just beginning. It scored the typical Cannes-contemporaneous reviews in the major papers, and Stephen Holden today recommends it as an Academy Awards Best Picture nominee in the New York Times. The Duchess was also pleased to read an astute discussion of the film's visual elements and historical connections by James Quandt in the January 2010 edition of Artforum.

Thematically "The White Ribbon" explores the genesis of the Nazist regime through its stories of male supremacy and unethical boorishness, delivered in the vehicles of religion, science, and money. The women and children are victimized and abused, both physically and psychologically through sex, torture, beatings, and endless verbal and bodily rebukes. Set in northern German village Eichwald from autumn 1913 to autumn 1914, the film opens with a violent accident resulting from what appears to be a childish prank, and the village is wrapped up in the mystery of who committed the crime. As the story unfolds, violent crimes begin to pile up, and the town's denizens are encouraged to locate and turn in the perpetrators, with most suspicions riding on the young schoolchildren. The violent crimes of the small German village reflect in the violent crimes of the present day: at an apres-dinner discussion between the Baron and Baroness, the Steward interrupts to inform the Baron that Archduke Franz Ferdinand has been assassinated in Sarajevo. And so the film sets up the mindstate of the German populace at the dawn of the first and second world wars.

The Duchess dislikes plot-spoilers so she will leave you with her unfettered recommendation to hurry to see "The White Ribbon." Shot in black and white 35 mm. Runtime 144 minutes.

Promotional Poster for Das Weisse Band featuring image of Pastor's son Martin.

Schoolchildren heading to the village's outskirts.

The schoolteacher/narrator, riding in the carriage with his bride-elect, nanny Eva.

Doctor's daughter Anna at breakfast with her brother Rudolph ("Rudy").

1 comment:

  1. An astute reader commented that Das Weisse Band was not shot in black and white; rather, it was shot in color and transferred to black and white. The Duchess apologizes.



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