Customer Reviews


77 Reviews
5 star:
 (43)
4 star:
 (9)
3 star:
 (10)
2 star:
 (7)
1 star:
 (8)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


74 of 77 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A troubling film
This is a film that will divide opinion between those who are firm advocates and those who wonder what all the fuss is about.

It is stunningly shot in black and white and well acted particularly by the children. It's a convincing film whose camera shots convey menace and evil in a way that is unsettling.

The story of a small German village and the...
Published on 30 Nov 2009 by Ms. A. M. Davidson

versus
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and disturbing
Yes, it's beautiful to look at, but the evil is there from the first scene. And it gets worse, playing on your mind, with the only respite being that offered by the teacher's blossoming romance. Everything is rotting thanks to the basic evil of humanity. Evil perpetuating evil appears to be the central theme, and many of the scenes, whilst sparing you the detail, are...
Published on 13 May 2010 by Nadya Laval


‹ Previous | 1 28 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

74 of 77 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A troubling film, 30 Nov 2009
By 
Ms. A. M. Davidson (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The White Ribbon [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
This is a film that will divide opinion between those who are firm advocates and those who wonder what all the fuss is about.

It is stunningly shot in black and white and well acted particularly by the children. It's a convincing film whose camera shots convey menace and evil in a way that is unsettling.

The story of a small German village and the appalling sequence of events that touch all the lives there is told through the schoolmaster. What do the atrocities mean? Who is the perpetrator? What part do the children play?

Given the adults are almost all unsavoury (one encounters abuse of all types) it is not surprising that the children grow up in a peculiar fashion. There will be parallels drawn between village life and the Nazis (indeed it's not hard to see one of the girls as a future concentration camp guard), but the film works well as a portrayal of an insular community turning in on itself.

Those who like their films neatly wrapped up with solutions will be disappointed. It provides no such comfort. But the conclusion of the film left me thoughtful and I returned to it days later to puzzle out what I thought about it. I'm still not entirely sure, but is it worth seeing? Yes indeed.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly adult film, in the best possible sense of the expression, 3 July 2011
This review is from: The White Ribbon [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
The White Ribbon won't appeal to those wanting a slick, colourful, fast-moving, gimmicky, loud sort of film with a few easy-to-digest plotlines, tidily resolved by the end.

If I had to sum it up in one line I'd say it is majestically Proustian in its treatment of the life of a pre-1stWW rural German community - but without the laughs.

An utterly memorable film that, some months after seeing it, still remains with me. The casting is superb - it's almost impossible to believe that these are not real characters, experiencing real - and terrible - events. The choice of treatment (almost no music except when integral to the story, black & white, long, lingeringly long, scenes full of rich detail making it utterly worthwhile to concentrate and stay with it - and, most impressive of all, no lurid scenes spelling out in prurient detail the cruelties perpetrated - the restraint was so powerfully used it was almost unbearable to think of what was happening...

But bearable it was, surprisingly, and I sat through this long film mesmerised, feeling totally swept up by it; the people and the room in which I sat seemed to disappear and I felt I WAS THERE, a ghostly observer, hardly daring to breathe.

The story took me on a journey I didn't realise I was going to make, and wouldn't have chosen to make but circumstances were such I had no choice but to be there - and I have absolutely no regrets and no doubt that I've seen one of the all-time great films. Setting aside the horrors of the various anguished situations that make up the story, it clears up any soppily Disneyesque ideas one might have had that rural life was golden in those times before the first WW. On many levels, this film had great integrity.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


86 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haneke does Thomas Hardy, 12 Aug 2010
By 
William Cohen (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The White Ribbon [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
I studied German at university, so I found this film to be familiar - the seriousness of the drama, the social hierarchy and the upright milieu of the baronial class, set against peasants and professionals. I'm used to Haneke creating contemporary drama, so this period piece was a bit of a surprise, it unfolds quite slowly, some of it doesn't make sense, there are lots of characters to follow.

Twice while I was watching this film, I had somewhere else to go, but I couldn't move. I found the tale to be spellbinding. You've got to have a taste for angst, horror and depravity, which tend to be Haneke's signature themes, but as in Cache or Code Unknown, Haneke evokes something painful about the human condition, the misunderstandings, the brutality and the lack of knowledge of other people's motives and actions.

I can see why some people would hate it. The film shows you of the cruelty of parents, the shame of childhood sexuality, adult sexual abuse of children and the reality of profound unhappiness, and Haneke does it in very raw ways. It's very like a Thomas Hardy story, which remains unsatisfyingly unresolved. Like Ravel's Pavane pour une infante defunte, this film leaves you with a depression that lingers for days. But good depression, which leads to a more profound understanding of life.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


103 of 113 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking in the extreme, 16 Dec 2009
This review is from: The White Ribbon [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
Before you start to read this, please note that it will give away some of the plot. I thoroughly recommend the film, and suggest you watch it without any preconceived ideas.

This film is extraordinary with myriad levels of interest. As an insight into rural lifestyles of the era it is fascinating (it would seem German agricultural production was much more labour-intensive and much less mechanised than in Britain at the same time, although probably it's wrong to make generalisations from the depiction of events on just one estate). It clearly shows how society was stratified into aristocracy (the Baron and Baroness), the educated elite (the doctor, the pastor & the teacher) the somewhat educated higher-level servants (the steward and the nanny) with uneducated agricultural labourers at the bottom of the pack.

Visually, the film is stunning; there is tremendous attention to detail in terms of costumes and architecture (just occasionally an over-modern window frame creeps in). Time and time again, there are beautifully composed shots of the village, the fields and the estate. The interiors of the houses are particularly noteworthy. When the peasant farmer goes into his bedroom to see his just-dead wife, the bareness and unevenness of the walls is indescribably depressing. The interiors of the other homes have been recreated entirely in keeping with the station of the owner.

The two above points, however, are not the main reason for watching the film (they are sort of extra "treats", if you like). A series of sinister events leads to closer scrutiny of the characters mentioned above. The doctor is found to be exploiting the midwife in the most brutal and callous fashion, and in addition seems to be abusing his daughter (whose age - 14 - he needs reminding of); the pastor is exceptionally strict on his several children, especially in respect of sexual matters (I do not doubt he loves them, and genuinely believes he is acting in their best interests); the Baron, while perhaps not directly responsible for the death of a disabled female worker, is most certainly exploiting the very poor agricultural labourers. The women in this film are all in the shadow of their husbands and their lives fall completely into conventional roles. At one stage, the midwife tries to stand up to the doctor & the Baroness tries to stand up to the Baron (but we don't know what the outcome of their rebellions was).

Children are central to this film, and it takes some effort to untangle them and work out which belong to which parents (principally the doctor, the steward & the pastor). This creates almost a pack identity, perhaps. Some of the events are harrowing; the pastor's confrontion with Martin; when Martin asks his brothers to untie him; when Anni tells Rudi that her father has pierced her ears; when Karli is being treated by the doctor. Other scenes are touching; I found all the scenes with Eva the nanny to be just beautiful. The first time the teacher saw her, searching for a premise on which to get her to stop and talk to him, he asks if she would take a fish to his father. This is despite the facts that neither of them has anything in which to wrap the fish, and Eva does not know the teacher's father. The exchanges between the two were always beautifully scripted and never awkward. No-one in the cinema noticed the comedy turn provided by Eva's father when the teacher went to visit Eva in her own home - I think perhaps it took them off guard, given the generally dark tenor of the film.

My only "gripe" with the film would perhaps be that the voice of the narrator was very different to that of the teacher as a young man. I was nearly annoyed by the one or two longish pauses - obviously the director had his reasons for these, but I can see that some people will not like them.

There has been speculation that the film prefigures the development of national socialism in Germany. Hindsight is a wonderful thing; the film takes place around 1913/14, Hitler was elected in 1933; of these two things we are sure. Whether the three key poisonous ingredients in this film (exploitation of the poor by the rich & powerful; repression, of children in particular; male dominance of women) led directly to national socialism is not, for me, certain.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tomorrow belongs to me.., 23 May 2010
By 
L. Davidson (Belfast, N.Ireland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The White Ribbon [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
"The White Ribbon" is an imperious film and I found it to be entirely captivating throughout.It is set in a rural community,Eichwald, in 1913-14 in northern Germany and is filmed entirely in monochrome. Eichwald is very hierarchical and patriarchal with the Baron, the Doctor , the Pastor and the Teacher being the predominant local figures ,with the rest of the servants ,workers and women being very much in their thrall. The villagers may appear to be peaceful,God fearing and selfless, but a series of apparent accidents and incidents of arson and assault arising from a general vindictive malice shatter the lives of the villagers and no-one knows who or what is behind them. The film portrays everyday life in this community superbly and there are many excellent scenes especially when the local children are abused and humiliated by their elders. Could the children not be as docile and well behaved as their parents might think and could they be behind the low level terrorism that is afflicting the village ? Or is there some kind of spirit or "zeitgeist" moving about the village causing people to become nasty and malicious ? There is great characterisation in "The White Ribbon" and the film is well acted throughout,particularly by the children. This film is perhaps something of an allegory to the rise of Nazism in Germany; the rigidly hierarchical,outwardly respectable ,cold and repressive society of Eichwald breeding a resentful and violent social stratum being symbolic of the rise of the Nazis only a few decades later...
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Analysis of evil, 3 Jan 2010
By 
L. Norris (southern England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The White Ribbon [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
I'll keep this short and to the point.

Possibly the greatest living auteur, Michael Haneke keeps getting better.
Not fast paced, not obvious, no one to root for, but all these things make it a stronger work, keeping us as outsiders unable to have a say in the horrors around the corner.
The anticipation for a solution to the strange events is palpable and that there is not one make the film truly unforgettable.
A moody analysis of evil and the sins of the father.

Highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Sins of Their Fathers., 7 April 2010
By 
Bob Salter "Captain Spindrift" (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This was my first experience of both the director Michael Haneke's work, and watching blu-ray in black and white. Quite an experience, and one that is very hard to describe as it is a film that fits no one genre with any ease. The blu-ray in black and white is a revelation, the clarity of the photography a joy to behold. Some of the shots of the winter German landscape would grace most photographic art galleries. The choice of black and white is in keeping with what is a bleak and at times disturbing story. If like me you are one of those who like to see the good guys wearing the white hats and the bad guys wearing the black hats, then this is perhaps not the film for you. If you like to see the good guys win and the bad guys punished for their misdemeanours, then again this may not be to your tastes. If you like a nice musical score, forget it, as this film is totally devoid of one, although this again is appropriate. But although in all honesty the film did leave me a little cold and disturbed, I could not deny that it is compelling and powerful. It might even be called a classic, which is clearly what the director has set out to make.

The film is set in a small protestant community in Northern Germany just before the outbreak of World War One. The period detail it should be said is stunningly authentic. The community is presided over by the local Baron in a feudal style from his manor. Virtually all the local population are dependent on the estate for their livelihoods, much in the same way that Britain operated before the war. But strange and sinister events begin to happen in the village. The local doctor is injured in a fall from his horse, caused by a deliberately laid trip wire. The baron's small son is found beaten by canes. A downs syndrome child is tortured and nearly blinded. A cabbage patch is mown down with a vengeful scythe. In some cases the perpetrator is obvious, but in others this is not the case. The community is awash with suspicion and rumour. Children gather eerily together in creepy fashion. I was reminded of William Golding's disturbing novel "Lord of the Flies". The director makes a mockery of the old adage about working with children and animals. The children all give powerful performances. We look inside the private lives of the villagers, especially the pastor played brilliantly by Burghart Klaussner, who gives perhaps the outstanding performance. He dominates his family with a malevolent religious fervour, and makes his children wear the white ribbon as a sign of pure intentions after they have sinned. Some scenes are particularly disturbing although nothing is actually shown. Some people with higher levels of sensitivity may have difficulties with the implied child abuse scene. The story is narrated by the village teacher played by Christian Friedel, who conducts a rather quaint old fashioned romance with a young girl of the village. There is no traditional ending to this story!

The film is one that you can certainly read many things into, given the dramatic events in German history to follow. Personally, the most powerful image for me was that of the effects of a harsh environment and the cruelty of parents on the children, and the way this impacted on the community. It seems to echo the problems that we have with anti social behaviour across our country today. Much of the blame for this can be laid at the doors of the parents. There is a reference in the film to the bible verse 20.5 from Exodus in relation to idols "You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me". This is a verse subject to much misinterpretation, but certainly parents have much to answer for! The film deservedly won the Palme d'or at Cannes. It is a film that I found difficult to like, but at the same time could not deny its brilliance. An immensely powerful and thought provoking film!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The White Ribbon on Blu-Ray, 13 Mar 2010
"The White Ribbon" is a stunningly beautiful black-and-white masterpiece that was unsurprisingly nominated for Best Camera at this year's Oscars. On Blu-Ray the sharpness and detailing of image is truly spectacular. It is not quite at the reference level of "Sin City" for depth and plasticity, but that is perhaps not quite a fair competition given that this is pure old-school film without manipulation. Throughout the film the viewer is treated to wonderfully composed shots, a complete course in cinematography, and all those images rendered always in uncompromising quality.

Given the nature of the film there is not much for HD sound to offer in the way of surround or LFE exhibitions, but those sounds offered are immaculately crisp and lifelike. Nevertheless, this is a BD where the argument for paying a premium revolves chiefly around the visual and not the audio.

The film itself was nominated as best Foreign Film at the Oscars, and probably lost for reasons other than cinematic ones. It is a very subtle film, perhaps too subtle for Hollywood, portraying a village community just before the outbreak of World War I. The acting is uniformly superb, often harrowing and hypnotic at the same time. It is not quite true to call the actors "unknowns" as a previous reviewer did, given that at the very least the Pastor played a central figure in the very successful "Die Fetten Jahre sind Vorbei" (known as "The Edukators" in England). The dialogue is superbly written and adds to the strong characterisation that the actors offer immensely.

What remains after the film is a shocking meditation on the origins of fascism and the Nazi era, but not one that offers or allows simplistic, trite conclusions. The film is quite unique and utterly unforgettable.

Highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and disturbing, 13 May 2010
This review is from: The White Ribbon [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
Yes, it's beautiful to look at, but the evil is there from the first scene. And it gets worse, playing on your mind, with the only respite being that offered by the teacher's blossoming romance. Everything is rotting thanks to the basic evil of humanity. Evil perpetuating evil appears to be the central theme, and many of the scenes, whilst sparing you the detail, are put simply, disturbing. Thought-provoking, I can understand its attraction. Yes, it lives on in the mind, but on the whole, is something of an endurance test in your tolerance to witnessing the destructive power of evil forces and your own horror at the realisation of its effect on the next generation: the white-ribboned children.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still waters run deep. A quiet, unsettling masterpiece., 15 Jun 2010
By 
Mr. S. P. Bretherton "Soul Searcher" (Liverpool, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The White Ribbon [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
It's a shame that some people still want human nature portrayed in easily-decipherable language. That movies must always have a recognisable and satisying conclusion. That viewers must never be left to think for themselves about the various dark and disturbing motives of so many people living in a confined and largely unenlightened world. I may only watch this film once, but it will live with me for a very long time for reasons too many to mention here. Suffice to say, that human nature is complex and unpredictable and, yes, often cruel, selfish and dark, and we should be grateful to all artists, be they writers, film-makers, musicians, painters, who never allow us to forget that. And yes, there was even humour in the film. All-in-all, too subtle for the 'one star' brigade who just don't get it. And probably never will.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 28 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The White Ribbon [DVD] [2009]
The White Ribbon [DVD] [2009] by Michael Haneke (DVD - 2010)
£6.49
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews