The White Ribbon (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 28 Old 06-18-2010, 12:13 PM - Thread Starter
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attachment.php?attachmentid=175795&d=1274100345
The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

82






Studio and Year: Sony Classic Pictures - 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 144 minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p/24


Audio Format(s): German DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English narration, German dialogue subbed in English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Starring: Christian Friedel, Leonie Benesch, Burghart Klaubner, Maria-Victoria Dragus, Leonard Proxauf, Ursina Lardi
Written & Directed by: Michael Haneke

Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 29, 2010







"Do as I say and as I do"



Film Synopsis:

On the eve of World War I, strange accidents in a small Protestant village in Northern Germany involve the children and teenagers of a choir run by the schoolteacher and their families. The abused and suppressed children of the villagers seem to be at the heart of this mystery as these events gradually take on the character of a punishment ritual.



My Take:

The White Ribbon takes place pre World War I in a small German Village. The inhabitants appear to be of simple means with the exception of The Baron who employs half of the village. He, his wife, and three children live on an estate within the village limits. He is looked to for leadership by the villagers and appears to be a fair man. Other village notables include the Steward (who oversees the workforce for the Baron) and his family, the widowed doctor and his two children, the midwife and her mentally handicapped son, the Pastor and his family, and the schoolteacher. The film is narrated by the schoolteacher who is now older and recounting the events that took place one season. It begins with the doctor taking a rather nasty spill from his horse which lands him an extended stay in the hospital (not located in the village) with a broken collarbone. It appears as though his accident was caused by a wire that was strung across the route he normally takes to and from his house. This is the beginning of a series of unusual and disturbing occurrences that have inexplicable origins. Some could be construed as accidental while others are clearly deliberate and come in the form of punishment/retaliation for seemingly unexplained reasons. There is an ominous nature that surrounds what is happening however most fails to take notice of who/what may be behind it.

In between these mysterious trappings life goes on which provide a closer look at the village inhabitants. Each supply clues to the mystery, but none that come in the form of readable breadcrumbs. The pastor is a stern disciplinarian who holds his children, especially the eldest boy Martin and girl Klara, to a strict code of conduct. Violation of that conduct leads to consequences. When they fail to come home on time one evening they receive corporal punishment followed by making them each wear a white ribbon. He has deemed it a sign of purity and a symbol that he feels is necessary to remind them of what is most valued and important. They are to wear the symbol until he judges them worthy of fulfilling its meaning. The doctor returns home from the hospital much to the chagrin of his 14 year old daughter, and 6 year old son that have been looked after by the village midwife (who has her own tale of woe). A local farmer's wife who works for the Baron suffers a fatal accident while at work when she falls through the rotten wooden floor in a barn loft. The schoolteacher meets and falls for the young woman recently hired by the Baroness as a nanny to their infant sons. She lives in a nearby village and although he has only met with her a few times he can't stop thinking about her and makes plans to call on her at her parent's home. Things within the village slowly begin to unravel. The Baron's son becomes a victim of an unusual punishment style ritual. It disrupts his household and the ripple effect is felt throughout the village. The frequency of dark events increases as more details surrounding the youth and their relationship with the adults in the village begin to come to light. The schoolteacher begins to suspect the truth but the thought is barely conceivable and certainly unspeakable.

I knew nothing about this film going in other than what I had seen in the trailer which offered just enough to pique my interest. This is a dark and intriguing expose about the blind interpretation of the ideals of one generation by the next and the depraved indifference displayed by a seemingly ordinary group of people in a small rural village. There are certain aspects of the film that are left open to interpretation but many are pointed with a directness that can be disturbing. The result makes for a compelling and evocative story that speaks volumes about the old adage do as I say not as I do. The cast was simply marvelous as each thoroughly fulfilled their duty to be genuinely convincing. I loved the cinematography and thought the decision to shoot the film in black and while only added to the story's thematic tone and mystique. The White ribbon doesn't offer a traditionally neat and tidy ending that ties everything together but it doesn't have to. The point it makes long before that is loud and clear. I thought it was great.



Parental Guide:

The rating is for disturbing content involving violence and sexuality.






AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 74



  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109943&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109943&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692



Video: 90


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

  • Monochrome reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

The white ribbon comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video with an average bitrate of 27 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound with an average bitrate of 2.6 Mbps.

Looking at films from a colorless perspective is something that can take a little getting used. It isn't an issue for me which allowed me to appreciate how wonderful this presentation is. Resolution is exquisite as images onscreen appear lucid and sharp with crisp definition that occasionally takes a near infinite perspective. Close ups reveal lots of fine detail in the faces, hair and clothing worn by the cast members. Some have expressive faces that reveal every crack, furrowed brow and wrinkle. Finer detail, that might otherwise be missed such as the etched/worn surfaces on old buildings or the texture of a fresh blanket of snow are clearly discernible. This is the case with interior shots as well which add a wonderful sense of dimension to the image making it appear more lifelike. Blacks and contrast have ample dynamic range which plays very well against the film's gradational shades of gray. Whites exhibit multistage delineation so that the blend of mixed content onscreen has appreciable depth of field. There is an assortment of low lit sequences where the only lighting consists of a flickering candle or kerosene lamp. While there is some natural loss of visibility in dark backgrounds the level of shadow detail is quite good. Even in black and white I could detect the differing tonal qualities among the fair skinned members of the cast. Grain is presented in fine layers that provide texture without overemphasis. This is a pristinely rendered video presentation that looks terrific in high definition.

The multi-channel German (English subtitled) lossless DTS-HD MA soundtrack won't test the limits of your surround sound system but it capably handles this front loaded audio presentation. It yields crisp, well textured dialogue that reaches far into the room and renders even subtle variances in tonal character or vocal inflections clearly. Good dynamic range is apparent but rarely tested by the recorded elements however the sounds/dialogue contained therein have ample depth. This is decidedly a dialogue driven film. Based upon the thematic tone of the story I think this presentation is not only appropriate but sounds quite good.



Bonus Features:


  • Making of The White Ribbon - 38 minute featurette

  • My Life - 50 minute documentary on director/writer Michael Haneke

  • Cannes Film Festival Premiere - 18 minute documentary

  • An interview with Michael Haneke - 14 minute featurette

  • (HD) Theatrical trailer

  • (HD) Previews: The secret in their eyes, Get low, A prophet, Chole, The last station, Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky, Waltz with Bashir, Wild grass
attachment.php?attachmentid=175796&d=1274100345

Final Thoughts:

The White Ribbon is a thought provoking, evocative and well enacted dramatic film that will leave you thinking about it long after you have finished watching. I found it to be a rewarding and darkly intriguing expose about the blind interpretation of the ideals of one generation by the next and the depraved indifference displayed by a seemingly ordinary group of people in a small rural village in pre World War I Germany. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony featuring superb high definition video, crystal clear lossless DTS-HD Master Audio sound and a limited but pertinent bonus feature offering. It is a highly recommended film that is worthy of your time.









attachment.php?attachmentid=109949&d=1210373731






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post #2 of 28 Old 06-19-2010, 03:50 PM
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Sounds interesting, adding to the Netflix queue...
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post #3 of 28 Old 06-19-2010, 05:25 PM
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Excellent...I would have never given it a look had I not read your review, sounds like something I would actually enjoy watching. Thanks for the heads-up Ralph!

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post #4 of 28 Old 06-19-2010, 07:50 PM
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Same here....never heard of it. Thanks, Ralph!
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post #5 of 28 Old 06-20-2010, 04:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Greetings,

My pleasure guys. I would have to agree that this is certainly a film that would have slipped by had it not come to me for review.


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post #6 of 28 Old 06-20-2010, 07:19 AM
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Let me get this straight. The premise of this film is that the horrors of Nazism was caused by child abuse? Puhleeze! If strict and onerous parenting were the cause, then the Amish would be committing genocide by now. Seems like a pretty farcical movie to me.
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post #7 of 28 Old 06-20-2010, 09:38 AM
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I do not have any problem with your video score rating, but the audio, as compared to other BR's, seems to be misleading. This is a dialogue driven film and cannot really be compared to most other BR's, especially action type films. How would you rate Casablanca BR's audio? It would seem to be more fair to rate a film's audio dependent upon what can be expected from the film and not compared to the best BR's audio. If the BR audio is better than in a very good theater such as The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, what more can you expect?
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post #8 of 28 Old 06-20-2010, 11:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fookoo_2010 View Post

I do not have any problem with your video score rating, but the audio, as compared to other BR's, seems to be misleading. This is a dialogue driven film and cannot really be compared to most other BR's, especially action type films. How would you rate Casablanca BR's audio? It would seem to be more fair to rate a film's audio dependent upon what can be expected from the film and not compared to the best BR's audio. If the BR audio is better than in a very good theater such as The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, what more can you expect?

Greetings,

That is the system I use. It shouldn't be misleading if you read my comments. I do understand what you mean however within the scope of my rating system this would equate to a score that falls within the category of "good" which is perfectly acceptable for a dialogue driven film.

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post #9 of 28 Old 06-20-2010, 11:02 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by easycruise View Post

Let me get this straight. The premise of this film is that the horrors of Nazism was caused by child abuse? Puhleeze! If strict and onerous parenting were the cause, then the Amish would be committing genocide by now. Seems like a pretty farcical movie to me.

Greetings,

Actually it has nothing to do with the Nazis. "Nuff said.

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post #10 of 28 Old 06-20-2010, 11:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts View Post

Greetings,

That is the system I use. It shouldn't be misleading if you read my comments. I do understand what you mean however within the scope of my rating system this would equate to a score that falls within the category of "good" which is perfectly acceptable for a dialogue driven film.

Regards,

Just out of curiosity, what would be a dialogue driven film's audio that you would rate in the 90's?
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post #11 of 28 Old 06-20-2010, 01:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fookoo_2010 View Post

Just out of curiosity, what would be a dialogue driven film's audio that you would rate in the 90's?

Greetings,

If I were to rate dialogue driven films separately in one category. This one would probably qualify for a rating of around 90.


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post #12 of 28 Old 06-20-2010, 04:14 PM
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Thanks Ralph for the review but I will be passing on this one.
I don't mind films with a drab color palette if it suits the film, but B&W doesn't work for me.
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post #13 of 28 Old 06-20-2010, 06:05 PM
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Roger Ebert:

It's too simple to say the film is about the origins of Nazism. If that were so, we would all be Nazis. It is possible to say that when the prevention of evil becomes more important than the preservation of freedom, authoritarianism grows.

If we are to prevent evil, someone must be in charge. The job naturally goes to those concerned with enforcing order.

Therefore, all disorder is evil and must be prevented, and that's how the interests of the state become more important than the interests of the people.
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post #14 of 28 Old 06-20-2010, 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by JJHXBR View Post

Thanks Ralph for the review but I will be passing on this one.
I don't mind films with a drab color palette if it suits the film, but B&W doesn't work for me.

The film was filmed in color, although it was removed digitally for this print due to the cost of B/W film stock.

Personally I don't think the movie would have the right feel to it in color after seeing it last year in the theater.
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post #15 of 28 Old 06-20-2010, 06:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts View Post

Greetings,

Actually it has nothing to do with the Nazis. "Nuff said.

Regards,

Sure it did, the implication was plain to see, especially with the year and the location in which the film takes place. You didn't catch that?
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post #16 of 28 Old 06-20-2010, 07:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by easycruise View Post

Sure it did, the implication was plain to see, especially with the year and the location in which the film takes place. You didn't catch that?

Greetings,

Caught that but didn't feel that was the underlying message. Take from it what you will but this won't be a topic debated in this thread.


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post #17 of 28 Old 06-20-2010, 07:48 PM
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Why don't you guys actually WATCH the film instead of taking Ralph to task on a review of a film you haven't seen?
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post #18 of 28 Old 06-21-2010, 08:17 AM
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Quite an interesting movie. Have two questions.

1. Is this movie strictly black and white?
2. Was this released in theaters?

Going in for rental on this one.

Cheers
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post #19 of 28 Old 06-21-2010, 09:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts View Post

Greetings,

Caught that but didn't feel that was the underlying message. Take from it what you will but this won't be a topic debated in this thread.
Regards,

Huh? In a movie review thread, we can't discuss the movie itself???

From the New York Times review..

"What will become of these particular blond children, who are either demons or victims, driven to mischief by severe paternal discipline or so intrinsically bad that no punishment could suffice? Do the math: it’s 1914. In 20 or 30 years, what do you suppose these children will be up to? Our narrator, well into old age, tells us that he is revisiting the strange events in the village to “clarify things that happened in our country” afterward. But “The White Ribbon” does the opposite, mystifying the historical phenomenon it purports to investigate. Forget about Weimar inflation and the Treaty of Versailles and whatever else you may have learned in school: Nazism was caused by child abuse. Or maybe by the intrinsic sinfulness of human beings. “The White Ribbon” is a whodunit that offers a philosophically and aesthetically unsatisfying answer: everyone. Which is also to say: no one.""

The narrator in the movie is discussing it, and the reviewers are discussing it, but we can't discuss it here on this thread? What's up with that!
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post #20 of 28 Old 06-21-2010, 09:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Summa View Post

Why don't you guys actually WATCH the film instead of taking Ralph to task on a review of a film you haven't seen?

Actually, Ralph was taking us to task first when he said to me that "Actually it has nothing to do with the Nazis. "Nuff said."

Um, even the narrator in the film mentioned it.
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post #21 of 28 Old 06-21-2010, 10:19 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by easycruise View Post

Huh? In a movie review thread, we can't discuss the movie itself???

From the New York Times review..

"What will become of these particular blond children, who are either demons or victims, driven to mischief by severe paternal discipline or so intrinsically bad that no punishment could suffice? Do the math: it's 1914. In 20 or 30 years, what do you suppose these children will be up to? Our narrator, well into old age, tells us that he is revisiting the strange events in the village to clarify things that happened in our country afterward. But The White Ribbon does the opposite, mystifying the historical phenomenon it purports to investigate. Forget about Weimar inflation and the Treaty of Versailles and whatever else you may have learned in school: Nazism was caused by child abuse. Or maybe by the intrinsic sinfulness of human beings. The White Ribbon is a whodunit that offers a philosophically and aesthetically unsatisfying answer: everyone. Which is also to say: no one.""

The narrator in the movie is discussing it, and the reviewers are discussing it, but we can't discuss it here on this thread? What's up with that!

Greetings,

I didn't say there would be no discussion about the film. I said that the issue regarding the interpretation that the events depicted in the film are responsible for the rise of Nazism won't be debated. I think I have been very clear on this point. If you would like to start your own thread in an appropriate venue please feel free.


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post #22 of 28 Old 06-22-2010, 10:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts View Post

Greetings,

I didn't say there would be no discussion about the film. I said that the issue regarding the interpretation that the events depicted in the film are responsible for the rise of Nazism won't be debated. I think I have been very clear on this point. If you would like to start your own thread in an appropriate venue please feel free.


Regards,

What a joke! Pravda-like censorship comes to the AVS forums. It's a sad day, indeed, for the pursuit of intellectual movie reviews and the underlying message of the films we watch. Shame.
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post #23 of 28 Old 06-22-2010, 11:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by easycruise View Post

What a joke! Pravda-like censorship comes to the AVS forums. It's a sad day, indeed, for the pursuit of intellectual movie reviews and the underlying message of the films we watch. Shame.

Greetings,

You have clearly stated your opinion regarding your interpretation of a film that you haven't seen yet. My reasoning for not wanting to allow a debate to ensue in this thread regarding whether or not child abuse is to blame for the rise of nazism should be obvious and in reality has nothing to do with allowing discussion of the film.

Anyone who feels that is what the film's underlying message is is free to state their opinion so long as it remains within the topic of the film and this thread. For the life of me I can't understand why you can't seem to perceive this. Regardless, please spare us the soapbox posturing and feel free to post back once you have seen the film.

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post #24 of 28 Old 06-22-2010, 05:28 PM
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I thought the underlying message was child abuse created 1080i/dolby digital 5.1 up-converted Blu-ray releases.
Oh wait...I haven't seen it!
-

Back on topic,

Thanks for the review Ralph,

I am now very interested in a film I had never heard of.
Glad you enjoyed it!
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post #25 of 28 Old 06-22-2010, 07:51 PM
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I had heard good things about this one, but it still never really gave me that itch to see it.


With a couple positive reviews and now yours, I think I might use a gift card to pick this one up next Tuesday.


Thanks again, Ralph.
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post #26 of 28 Old 07-01-2010, 09:23 AM
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I picked it up at blockbuster last night. Very disappointing!
Wife and I got through it about 20 minutes or so and while I can understand enough German to not require subtitles, I absolutely hate movies that are marketed in this country without proper language dialog. had I read your review first, or read the jacket, I would have avoided this lousy waste of time and rental. I suppose I should have seen the clues at blockbuster because they had quite a few in stock and none were being rented. Combine not in English with b&w and deceive the public with English titles and box art and we have a big loser of a movie.
I appreciate that many love to read subtitles and prefer to do that while watching a movie, I don't and try to avoid those titles all the time. If I want to read a story, I'll buy the book! I don't read a book while watching a movie. I certainly never try to watch a movie while reading the book either.


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I enjoyed your comments but as Ralph explained, this is not the venue to discuss / debate the politics of these movies. It has nothing to do with censorship. We look forward to learning and offering opinion on the technical merits of the movies here absent the usual political opinion of the content. Think how boring it would be if every action movie review became a thread debate about gun control. Hope you understand. Ralph does a good job of keeping things on track and I like how he does it even though we often disagree with his reviews, like this one. I read them because they are absent the nonsense and I get a good technical evaluation from his format here.
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post #27 of 28 Old 07-01-2010, 11:05 AM
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There is always a potential problem when films are subtitled because unless one is fluent in said language, one has to read them and somehow also concentrate on what is going on with the visual aspect of the film. If the film is interesting enough, it is always beneficial to go back and see it a second time, whether at the theater or on dvd. As to English dubbing, forget that and there are probably very few exceptions to that generality.
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post #28 of 28 Old 07-15-2010, 05:42 PM
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I was very impressed by The White Ribbon's black and white photography. Some of the exterior scenes, particularly these set in snow, were startlingly beautiful. As noted by earlier posters, the audio is almost entirely dialog driven, so there wasn't much on the sound track to distinguish it from many others.

I had read before I saw the film that it was an exploration of the origins of naziism. Well, all right, I suppose that one could take that from it but only if one were an artiste. The screenplay was painfully dark. Michael Haneke, who wrote it and also directed the film, must have a pathologically dim view of humanity. I admit that I got caught up in the story but after it ended, I thought that it had been a waste of my time. 10 out of 10 Stars for the film's cinematography and the talent of its young cast. 3 out of 10 Stars, though, for its meanspirited and, to me at least, pointless story.
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