i know that michael haneke is a good director, but i don’t know much about his films other than that. i mean, i’ve seen several of his films (both versions of funny games, white ribbon, piano teacher, benny’s video, and cache), but i don’t necessarily know how to categorize the guy and his work. is he a pessimist, a realistic, or just really really german (or austrian as the case may be)? sex and violence are big themes as are precocious and mischievous (to put it mildly) kids. his films raise a lot more questions than they give answers, that’s for certain.
white ribbon is no exception to this rule and it may actually be the film that encapsulates the michael haneke feel best. it has all the elements of twisted sociopathic kids run amok that we see in funny games and benny’s video. it has the sadistic sexuality of piano teacher. it has the mystery and suspense of cache. it has the ambiguous, almost flat, ending of all his films. i’ve complained before about filmmakers ending a film too late. haneke is about the only director who (arguably) ends the film too early on a consistent basis.
this and his other films, aren’t for everyone. i liked the film once it got rolling (after about 20 minutes), but it’s not a film i’m going to run out and recommend to everyone i know. i don’t know what haneke wants us to think or to think about with his films, but they provide a platform to think about a lot of the more unsavory elements of society and humanity. it’s a side of humanity i wish we could deny, but ultimately i guess it’s where the species is right now. the makers of south park have explained the premise of the show basically like this: “we think kids are assholes, yet they can be cruel little shitheads and get away with it because they’re kids. so it makes for a good comedic setup where you can have a character like cartman who is a bigot an all the rest and kinda get away with it as comedians because it’s just a stupid kid spouting all that hate and stupidity.” i don’t know if haneke feels the same way about kids in general or if the kids in his films are a metaphor for society in some way. socially we’re still children, still unable to do the right thing, still sadistic and hateful and vengeful at times.Watched in theater