30 Days of Oscar: Day 20 - The White Ribbon

Movie: The White Ribbon
Year: 2010
Nominations: Best Foreign Language Feature, Best Cinematography
Wins/Snubs: It won the Golden Globe the same year, and lots and lots of other awards, but the Oscar went to The Secret in their Eyes (El Secreto de sus Ojos).  Cinematography went to Avatar, which I can't disagree with.  
The original German title of this film translates to A German Children's Story.  I sense that it was changed because that title gives the film even creepier undertones than it already has.  The movie takes place in a small German village before WWI.  It's narrated by the town's school teacher, who wants to marry the Baron's nanny, before she gets fired.  But a series of strange events begin - the doctor's horse trips over a booby-trapped wire and he's thrown and injured, the wife of a tenant farmer falls through a second story hay loft and dies, the baron's son is kidnapped and tortured, but survives, and a handicapped boy is kidnapped and beaten.  They don't spend much time explaining what might have happened, but in "investigating" these issues the town discovers that many residents are creepy, abusing, evil, and more than a little bit judgmental.  Ultimately, it leads people to suspect a lot of the children of the village of rising up against the adults that oppress them, abuse them, and basically try to "teach" them to be perfect.  The White Ribbon refers to the ribbon the pastor puts on his children's arms to remind them to be pure.  
Overall, I didn't like the film, but it's certainly food for a lot of thought about what the story was trying to tell us, and what it was an allegory for.  It does show a lot of the unrest in Germany between peasants and landed gentry, but that's about all I got from it other than some people have secrets so bad you don't want to know them.  Now I need to see The Secret in their Eyes to compare. 


  1. I liked the film more than you did, but it's definitely not an easy watch. The really chilling thing is to realize that based on the timeframe when the movie is set, these kids would've been the right age to lead the Nazi party when it came to power in 1933. That brings up all kinds of implications to the social and religious aspects of this town and how the results might eventually play out politically and morally. No easy message or answers, but definitely makes you think.

  2. Jandy - Thank you. I could feel I was missing this connection to Naziism, but I couldn't put my finger on it. That's it exactly. So many strange layers. Almost too complex for one watching.


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