On the eve of World War I, the quiet order of a small protestant village in Northern Germany is disturbed by a series of mysterious and inexplicable accidents. To the mounting concern of the villagers, the events persist, becoming increasingly sinister and taking on the character of a perverse punishment ritual. But who is responsible.
If you're even reading a review of a 2 hour 17 minute, German, (sub-titled), black and white film you clearly have a minority taste in film. For this small group of readers I would highly recommend this insight into strict Lutheran pre-war philosophy. Severely oppressive by today's standards but illuminating to glimpse into and speculate on how fascism grew from it, and indeed how any extremely disciplined culture spawns disastrous politics.
Haneke's haunting parable set in a small German village on the eve of WWI - told from the perspective of a local teacher (with a voice over looking back many years later) it tells of a series of events that took place - some mundane, others quite horrific that engulfed the village - no-one can be found to be blamed and this creates tensions that ratchet up the already tense relationship between the major characters. Its as much a mediation on the roots of evil and how in the years to come these roots will manifest themselves as history. Its engrossing throughout with long elegant takes and fantastic B&W photography - its quite slow and at 2h24m quite a long haul but won the Palme D'Or at Cannes that year - and it does reward the effort.....
A strangely mesmerising black and white rendition from director Michael Haneke. What appears to be an idyllic community just before the First World War is emotionally torn asunder by untoward goings on. Never gratuitous, there are deaths, torture, destruction, violence and paedophilia in this very long movie. Reasons for these acts are not always clear and the perpetrators largely remain unknown and unpunished. There is an underlying theme throughout of Teutonic control, both mentally and physically plus man's dominance over what he sees as his inferiors ie women and children. The film is interspersed with some very sweet scenes but in the main, these are few and far between. The acting is superb, it flows at a very easy pace and the costumes look very authentic. Engrossing for discerning movie buffs, the film stays with you long after it has ended.