The White Ribbon (2009)

Das weisse Band (The White Ribbon) Review


2stars rating at theskykid.comI don’t usually write negative reviews, as most of the time I am well prepared for what I am about to see when I pick a new film. ¨The White Ribbon¨  surprised me as it turned out quite different than what I imagined it would be.

First of all, the film is not coming of age – or at least not if you consider the individual, as one may argue that the director portrays the coming of age of a whole society (the white ribbon of the title symbolizes an innocence that has now been lost).

To start with, I was mislead by the description of the film at Wikipedia.  According to it:

¨The screenplay focuses on a children’s choir in a village in northern Germany just before World War I¨.

After reading that, and looking at the film’s front cover, I expected that the film would be similar to ¨Les choristes¨ and be a bit focused on music. Instead, I watched a psychological portrayal of the society in a small rural village in  Germany.

Most of the time while watching the film I was trying to grasp its meaning and the relation between the scenes and the ideas which the director wanted to express. This was not an easy task as Michael Haneke seemingly aimed to make his film as chaotic and challenging to interpret as possible. Despite the symbolism in the film and the intriguing narration, I was rather bored by the film – partly because I found the action too slow.  Thankfully, the majority of the actors were talented enough to make the viewer interested in the events in which their characters participated.  Puritanism, discipline, violence and abuse are the interrelated themes which are integrated into the storyline.

Despite being a new production, the entire film is shot in black and white, which I think was a good cinematographic decision. The film won several awards, including the Palme d’Or at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival – yet I hesitate recommending it.


Blogger, cyclist , entrepreneur , music lover and film critic.


  1. This is not a ‘new production’ per se as it is directed by acclaimed Austrian film-maker Michael Haneke, as you mentioned. If you have ever seen his classic film ‘Funny Games’ one would get the impression of what he is about, as a director. I recommend a review of this (German/Austrian version), though it is not coming of age. It will leave an impression on you though for the rest of your life. I think it will change the many opinions here of his work!

    No, White Ribbon is not a coming of age film though he has made an attempt with ‘Benny’s Video’.  I recommend you watch and review!

    • Hello Mattinas ,

      Thank you for commenting and for providing such an interesting insights. I have not yet seen Funny Games , but will mark it in my too see list. Now Benny`s Video is a film I have heard of – read the synopsis rather and it did seem controversial ( I just love controversial films – even if very few directors dare to work on such ) – of that one I can promise you a review on the site as soon as I see it.

  2. This was a very good film. I don't know why you gave it only 2 stars. Is it because you had different initial expectations to what the film was about? If so, it would be very unfair to review this film in that light.

  3. The movie is now in cinema in the Netherlands where I live and some friends were watching it this week.
    They said that it is a boring movie with a vague ending. Because I study German language I'll probaby watch this movie someday – just to know it and because it deals with German history. But after reading your review and knowing the opinions of my friends I'm not really interested in the movie.

  4. I am glad that you and Quex are interested to see the film despite the tone of my review. While I did not like the film in general – I spend about half and hour analyzing it with a classmate of mine. She seemed interested in the film`s plot – even if the only thing she knew about it was my interpretation . Therefore if you guys manage to see this title – I will be more than interested to continue the discussion on it, once knowing your impressions of it.

  5. Oh, I am glad that you've written something about this german film that I also had in mind – but could not yet manage to see it. First I thought… well, just another world-war film… but I after I realized that this one deals with the first world war, I felt a sudden relief. Compared to the mass of films about WW-2, one could almost say that such films are rather “rare”. Hm, your review makes me thoughtful. M. Haneke is indeed a very unqique and somehow strange and provocating director, so I am just curious I guess…

  6. A well written, thoughtful review. Yes, it's not your usual positive review, but I think you're points are valid and well developed.

    • I totally disagree, both with the review and your comment. There’s nothing thoughtful about the review. It is a gut reaction to a cultural statement, which you don’t understand and don’t get because you’re from a different culture and era. You both missed the point of the movie entirely.

    • I agree with you that that I felt : from a different culture and era ” when watching this film – but that`s why the review is at it is. Since that day I have seen it once more – yet to me it remains a flat film.


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