A Book and a Film


I have almost finished The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb, the author of She’s Come Undone. It is a good novel with a fine storyline. The narrator is an English teacher at Columbine, Littleton whose wife barely escapes the massacre. Although she survived her existence becomes miserable and from then on their lives is a series of ordeals. The man character is not as cleverly crafted as Dolores in She’s Come Undone but the book is still a pageturner.

The movie I saw – The White Ribbon – is totally different and not a light one. If you decide to go and watch it, you need to be aware that you will probably be haunted by the implicit and explicit violence it contains.

The story is set in a Protestant village in Northern Germany in 1913. A community which is ruled by the baron, the pastor and the doctor, in that order. Strange things happen and we witness how different people in this close-knit community react.

Because of the slow pace, the sobriety of the language and the choice of black and white, the film powerfully conveys the atmosphere of the stifled and stifling community.

In an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde on 10/20/09, published on 10/21/09, Michael Haneke explicitly and unequivocally declared his intentions in making this movie:

He intended to make a movie about the roots of evil. He explained that he believed that the environment of extreme, punitive and sexually repressive protestantism in Germany, had laid the groundwork for Fascism and Nazism. He added that he saw the same patterns developing in fundamentalist Muslim societies today, and that it is those societies that today were spawning terrorists and suicide bombers. Finally, he expressed the sentiment that The White Ribbon is a movie against all extremisms.