LFF #2 -- The White Ribbon

From the London Film Festival: Michael Haneke delves into the past

The White Ribbon
dir: Michael Haneke

It's 1913, we are in a pious Protestant village in northern Germany, and all is not well. A series of strange incidents has upset the village: the doctor has been thrown from his horse, a peasant farmer's wife is killed in an accident, and the landowner's son is kidnapped and beaten. As the film progresses, the upstanding parishioners are revealed to be less than upstanding in private, and the local children develop a sinister, Village of the Damned look about them. Narrated by the local schoolteacher who is looking back on these events in old age, and with the film ending just as the First World War breaks out, The White Ribbon is full of doomy historical portents. Cruelty abounds here, but does it reside in the hearts of the adults, or in their children? The latter, after all, would grow up to be the generation that built the Third Reich.

Haneke is too sophisticated a film-maker to provide easy answers, and for those who disliked the way his last work, Funny Games, bashed you over the head (almost literally) with its message, this will come as a relief. The film's stark black and white -- and I mean really stark: shadowy interiors compete with almost blinding shots of snowdrifts and wheat fields -- gives a ghostly sheen to the affair. The closing shot is particularly haunting: a slow fade to black as the villagers line up in church, their faces resembling those of a long-dead army regiment, peering out of a decomposing photograph.

Next up: Romania's "golden age" uncovered.

Daniel Trilling is the Editor of New Humanist magazine. He was formerly an Assistant Editor at the New Statesman.

Show Hide image

SRSLY #94: Liam Payne / Kimmy Schmidt / Mulholland Drive

On the pop culture podcast this week: the debut solo single from Liam Payne, the Netflix series The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and the David Lynch film Mulholland Drive.

This is SRSLY, the pop culture podcast from the New Statesman. Here, you can find links to all the things we talk about in the show as well as a bit more detail about who we are and where else you can find us online.

Listen using the player below. . .

. . .or subscribe in iTunes. We’re also on StitcherRSS and SoundCloud – but if you use a podcast app that we’re not appearing in, let us know.

SRSLY is hosted by Caroline Crampton and Anna Leszkiewicz, the NS’s assistant editor and editorial assistant. We’re on Twitter as @c_crampton and @annaleszkie, where between us we post a heady mixture of Serious Journalism, excellent gifs and regularly ask questions J K Rowling needs to answer.

The Links

Liam Payne

The lyrics. Oh God, the lyrics.

The interview that Caroline mentioned, feat. Ed Sheeran anecdote.

Liam on the trending chart.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

The show on Netflix.

Why the show needs to end.

The GOAT, Emily Nussbaum, on the show.

Mulholland Drive

Lynch's ten clues to unlocking the film.

Everything you were afraid to ask about Mulholland Drive.

Vanity Fair goes inside the making of the film.

For next time:

We are watching Loaded.

If you’d like to talk to us about the podcast or make a suggestion for something we should read or cover, you can email srslypod[at]gmail.com.

You can also find us on Twitter @srslypod, or send us your thoughts on tumblr here. If you like the podcast, we’d love you to leave a review on iTunes - this helps other people come across it.

We love reading out your emails. If you have thoughts you want to share on anything we’ve discussed, or questions you want to ask us, please email us on srslypod[at]gmail.com, or @ us on Twitter @srslypod, or get in touch via tumblr here. We also have Facebook now.

Our theme music is “Guatemala - Panama March” (by Heftone Banjo Orchestra), licensed under Creative Commons. 

See you next week!

PS If you missed #93, check it out here.

0800 7318496