User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 90 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 80 out of 90
  2. Negative: 4 out of 90

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  1. Aug 9, 2014
    6
    Haneke's acclaimed picture is not much apart from an excellent direction, its beautiful black-and-white cinematography, and some symbols. The film feels more of a mystery film, which is good, but struggles to present itself as an arthouse. Its concept is pretty commonplace, and so is the way it tells its story. It is truly stunning to look at, it is entertaining to watch, but there is nothing that justifies the fact that it tries so hard to be considered a classic. I really liked its looks, but was disappointed in its emptiness. Worth-watching, though. Expand
  2. Mar 25, 2013
    8
    The story of a small village in Germany right before World War I. The White Ribbon is an emotional experience but not of the feel good sort. This film does not really have a central character, and only two characters that we can root for. While most movies with bleak story lines try to move our emotions from dark to light, Haneke takes the opposite approach. While the mood is never light, it still manages to become harsher and darker as the story progresses.

    Someone seems to be targeting the citizens of this small village. A handful of them are brutally injured at separate times and with no witnesses. As the search towards finding the culprit takes place we get to know many of the folks in the village. The teacher in the village is the one character that we can have a positive response to and he is also the narrator of the story. So we learn what is happening as he does. The women and children in this story are more seen than heard and that is the way that the men of the village want it. We see the harsh treatment of them throughout the film and it is hard not to have a visceral response to the abuse they are subjected to.

    This film thrives under Haneke's hand. Everything that is great about it is owed to him. The pace is slow and steady, so the viewers response grows with the film. Each shot is beautifully framed, the black and white setting is brilliant for this story. The dialogue is sharp and ambiguous. This is the type of film that I will not be in a hurry to revisit. However I am glad I did once and it will stick with me for a long time.
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  3. Jun 10, 2011
    10
    an absolutely disturbing film and needs to be hailed as one of the best films of its decade. I've only watched two of Michael Haneke's films (the other being Cache) too realise that this man is a genius. it is a simple story, but to create that level of unease and uncertainty requires sheer craft. Great film.
  4. Feb 20, 2011
    9
    Crystal clear film language - The inner tension is constrained and the expressions of opinion are pointed with quivering effect in Michael Haneke's tenth feature.

    In the foregoings of the first world war unexplainable incidents occurs in the north German village Eichwald, where most of the inhabitants work for the baron. The incidents who appear as some form of ritual punishment of
    random individuals disturbs the safety of the residents.

    This ominous and fictitious tale about a pietistic rural community being bewildered by fear and doubt after a string of incomprehensible events, is told through an aging teacher's retrospective voice-over. Are the incidents random? Are they warnings? Are they acts of revenge? Or is it perhaps so that the inhabitants are being punished? With a shred of humor and warmth which is rarely seen from the expressive film artist Michael Haneke and which is the main contrast to this films gravitating tone, a precise and sharp minded portrayal of the boomerang effect that arose as a result of the one-dimensional upbringing of children that was practiced in Germany in the beginning of the 1900th century is sketched out. With verbal and physical ways of punishment the parents inculcated sin and shame in their children, which mislead the children into the primitive entanglements of fear and stagnated their development.

    "The White Ribbon" opens with an accident that provokes a circulation of distressing events and leads towards the outburst of the first world war, the source of fascism, the second world war and Holocaust. The origins and the entity of violence has always been a favored motive in Hankes filmography, and with last years Palme'd Or winner the Austrian has concretisized his characteristic themes, nuanced his style and found a language that extends his expressions. Hanekes distinct though unforeseen filming and Monica Willis' abrupt editing transfers the characters suspiciousness to the viewer in this emotionally distant "Who-did-it"- crime drama, and with frequent use of the off-screen method and figurative descriptions, Haneke gives the viewer sensible impressions that underlines his aversion towards violence. This is Hanekes most aesthetic work, meticulously photographed by Christian Berger. The mood making black and white color is one of the films essential characters, the milieu depictions are credible reflection of the time period, the pace is discreet, the actors are rock solid and with this multi award winning co-production that was shoot in Germany, Michael Haneke and his collaborators has created an historical allegory that bears resemblance with Ingmar Bergman's "Fanny and Alexander" (1982).
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  5. Jan 30, 2011
    6
    Beautifully filmed and acted and directed, yet ultimately unsatisfying. The story of a small German village told years later by its schoolteacher, who recounts a series of unsettling events in the months prior to WWI. The film centers primarily on the town's parson, the town's landowning baron,the town doctor, the schoolteacher and the children he teaches. Odd stuff happens and no one seems to know why. As the film slowly winds from one event to another we await resolution, but there is no satisfying moment of understanding or clarity, and all is left unsettled. The characters are so odd that the Marty Feldman character from Young Frankenstein would have fit right in and provided some needed comic relief. Expand
  6. Jan 1, 2011
    10
    One of the best films you will ever see. One word? Chilling. I found myself to be a different person when I left the cinema. It tells a dark tale of the human life and I could not shake the feeling that what is depicted in the film is less a fairy tale and more a picture of a reality that seems overcome, but is it really and truly?
  7. Dec 22, 2010
    5
    Unlike most people on here, I did not enjoy 'The White Ribbon.' It just did not get its message across, for me. Yes, the black and white cinematography was excellent and it definitely contributed to the general gloomy, dark feeling of the film, but cinematography alone cannot save the film. I found myself, quite often, being bored out of my wits because of the extremely slow pace of the film, and just being rather frustrated at the end, with the open-endedness of the whole picture. Also, I do not really see the connection between this story and the origins of National Socialism, but I guess maybe if I watched it again I could pick up on more things. Sadly, I just do not feel like wasting another 2 1/2 hours on this. Expand
  8. Aug 26, 2010
    10
    The movie is nothing more than a dark tale of metaphors and anti-humanism. Set in a small pre-World War I village in Germany, Haneke unravels schemes that he uses to signify the rise of fascism by the need for control - no characters are left without faults, and the more that is revealed, the more we realize that the village will inevitably spiral into chaos. The plot itself is provoking, but the movie would be nothing without Haneke's methodical direction, weaving bleakness with uncertainty and paranoia in a way that is sure to gnaw at your soul. Collapse
  9. Aug 18, 2010
    9
    Amazing movie. Real thinker. It's one of those movies that you'll hate after seeing it, but once you see the bigger picture, no pun intended, it will stun you.
Metascore
82

Universal acclaim - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 33
  2. Negative: 1 out of 33
  1. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    63
    An artful examination of a small town and small-mindedness and the potential for full-blown, large-scale evil. But it's strangely bloodless.
  2. 100
    Shot in spectacular black-and-white by cinematographer Christian Berger, and marvelously acted by a first-rate German ensemble, The White Ribbon captures a mood of thickening tension and mounting violence.
  3. 100
    The film is visually masterful. It's in black and white, of course.