Das Weisse Band

Das Weisse Band (2009) – [rate 4]

(- Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte; – A German children’s tale)

Interesting movie about the effect of following a specific (very strict) set of rules, particularly those of early 20th century German protestants in a small village. Under the patriarchical rule of a nobleman, a reverend and a schoolteacher and through the compliance of many other men in the village, the youths seem to fill a niche and form a shady movement that causes all sorts of social disturbance and excutes mob justice.

It’s a slow moving story, where detail matters but it’s engaging and time flew by as I watched it. It keeps you on your toes, not in the last place because Michael Haneke has a style of story-telling in which he leaves a lot unsaid. Das Weisse Band is more explicit in its story-telling than his recent Caché for example, but the viewer is still left the task of deciding what actually happened. Even the movie itself is not necessarily a truthful account, as it’s the story of the voice-over telling of events that he didn’t even witness himself in many cases.

Whether the story in anyway explains the rise of national socialism, the start of the first and second world war or any other events that follow is something left up to the viewer too. Personally, I feel it only – very clearly – shows a complex social mechanism play out, as it may have in many villages in early 20th century Germany. Some of it is very recognizable, more so if you’ve ever lived in a small village for a long period (I grew up in one).

This is certainly one of the more engaging movies I’ve seen in 2009, but it’s definitely not for everyone. Also, I feel it could have done without a few threads in the story, so I arrive at a respectable 4/5.