Universal acclaim - based on 33 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 90 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: A village in Protestant northern Germany. 1913-1914. On the eve of World War I. The story of the children and teenagers of a choir run by the village schoolteacher, and their families: the baron, the steward, the pastor, the doctor, the midwife, the tenant farmers. Strange accidents occur and gradually take on the character of a punishment ritual. Who is behind it all? The village schoolteacher observes, investigates and little by little discovers the incredible truth. Are we being asked to consider whether these events heralded something that would explode years later with the rise of Nazi Germany? Did these events contain the germs of the tragedies that followed? (Sony Classics) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 33
  2. Negative: 1 out of 33
  1. 100
    Haneke’s latest is essentially an inquiry into the roots of a certain kind of evil.
  2. A stark, contemplative and hauntingly brilliant film.
  3. Reviewed by: Peter Brunette
    It's a superb cinematic work and an appropriately serious one, given its subject matter and its intentions.
  4. 88
    Haneke tells this tale a bit too patiently for my taste. But the metaphors are unmistakable, as is the power of the film’s message.
  5. The White Ribbon comes dangerously--wonderfully?--close to playing like an evil-kid flick.
  6. The film is chilled by characters that never really come alive or generate any deep sympathy.
  7. Chill to the core, Haneke presents human cruelty not to make us empathize with the victims or understand the oppressors but to rub our noses in the crimes of our species. He thinks he’s held on to the subversive ideals of punk, but all I smell is skunk.

See all 33 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 15
  2. Negative: 0 out of 15
  1. Aug 26, 2010
    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. Expand
  2. Jan 1, 2011
    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? Expand
  3. Jun 10, 2011
    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. Collapse
    Jan 10, 2010
    stunning, original movie. I am still thinking about it which is more than i can say about many of the big Holliwood movies I have seen lately.
  5. SmoothJacobs
    Jan 29, 2010
    Stunning film from relentless provocateur Michael Haneke. The premise is scintillating, and it's slow-burn method of denying the audience any explicit truth is remarkable. One of the best films I've seen in a while. Expand
  6. Mar 25, 2013
    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.
  7. MichaelB.
    Dec 30, 2009
    Beautifully photographed and very well-acted, "The White Ribbon", Haneke's latest film, was simply too cold and remote for my taste. Despite some of the most beautiful B&W cinematography you'll ever see, the film comes across like half-baked Bergman. Surprised that "The White Ribbon" won the Palme d'Or at Cannes over "Un Prophete", which to me is a vastly superior film. Haneke fans won't be disappointed, though everyone else might find that "The White Ribbon" overstays its welcome. Expand

See all 15 User Reviews