White Ribbon

Rated 4.0

A year or so before the outbreak of World War I, some very strange things begin happening in a small rural village in Germany. The young schoolteacher who narrates the story catches glimpses of some troubling incidents, and begins to suspect that a few of the local kids may be implicated in some of the crueler victimizations. The families of the local patriarchs get variously entangled in the increasingly dark and sometimes rather savage mysteries that begin to cloud the seemingly bucolic existence of this vigorous-looking little community. Those icy patriarchs and a Nordic brand of Puritanism are part of the problem, but an almost Kafkaesque fog of uncertainty and guilt hovers over this quietly sprawling tale. A richly evocative period piece filmed in scintillating black and white, this is the latest prize-winning work of Michael Haneke (The Piano Teacher, Cache), and the graceful intensity of its acting and direction makes somber poetry out of what might have been a merely misanthropic melodrama. Pageant Theatre. Rated PG-13