The White Ribbon (2010) Short Review
You may notice the ‘4 star’ blurbs on the poster, one stating ‘ immense subtlety’, but I think they must have confused subtlety with meandering. I gave it a far lower rating. Don’t take my word for it, though. See it and let me know what you think.
The White Ribbon is a film that begins with a narrator telling you this is a story that may explain the reason for a war happening and then proceeds to be as ambiguous as possible. There is nothing in the film to extrapolate with logic what the filmmaker was trying to say. The film’s loaded with dangling storylines, red herrings, contradictions, misleading information, and lots and lots and LOTS of plotlines that are never tied together in any meaningful way. Then it ends by not standing by the opening statement and giving the viewer something to help put the film in context.
The only person in the film that doesn’t appear to have major problems is the narrator: the schoolteacher who is impotent at everything that he attempts onscreen and is the only one to offer up a solution but is intimidated by the town constable into keeping his mouth shut (he believes the children have something to do with all of the problems, but it’s never proven as to what and how they’re involved).
This is really just another attack on religion by a filmmaker, laying the blame without also regarding the positives. If that’s the case I would strongly disagree with that. A bigger problem is the story never even presents that with any clarity. It’s just a collection of random happenings.And if the filmmaker really wanted to know the reasons for WWII, he might try opening up a history book.
As I’ve said in other reviews, you can place all of the symbols you like in a film, but if they aren’t properly tied together in some coherent way, then those symbols have no meaning. Maybe that’s what the director was going for, to be pointless. That seems to be what’s considered art nouveau these days. The film’s cousin may be The Last Picture Show, another bleak B&W film that purports to depict a loss of innocence when innocence is never established.
Because of the ambiguity of the story, this is obviously a very polarizing film. By leaving the vessel ultimately empty, he allows the viewer to fill it up with their own ideas and values. I’ve read the synopsis, other reviews and even words from the film’s director, but for me, none of the things discussed are actually in the context of the film and the film never adds up to anything other than a monumental waste of time.