A riddle in the key of repression – and destined to win a few Oscars.whiterib.jpg

“Director Michael Haneke believes that one generation’s moral decay is rarely eradicated, but lingers submerged in the collective unconscious until future events trigger its return. In a German village on the verge of World War I a series of random events ignites suspicion, violence and strange punishment. The ripening mood of paranoia and retaliation tears apart the village fabric, until the messes are covered up and control regained. As a forensic allegory of hypocrisy, longing, and disappointment, The White Ribbon owns a place in the short list of all-time unforgettable films.”

That’s how I began my review of The White Ribbon — you can read the entire piece in the current Santa Cruz Weekly. And no matter how many people try to scare you off, don’t miss this gorgeous and provocative film.

I’m so tired of people saying to me, “yes, but it’s in black and white,” as if describing some sort of physical deformity. Sure, James Cameron needed color, digital animation and 3-D to get his ideas across. Haneke is making a finer point.

Black and white imagery allows him to dispense with the distracting “noise” of color and force us deep down into a moral abyss that resonates eerily today. (And no, this is NOT a film about the holocaust.) I’m beginning to think that people only want feel-good entertainment these days (yes, I know, Busby Berkeley films were made during that other Depression….).The White Ribbon is an exquisite film—disturbing and brusque, and utterly beautiful. Think Walt Whitman describing the Civil War—chillingly beautiful. At the Nick.