Das Weisse Band – Michael Haneke


The violence of the innocents, the guilt of he Fathers.

A community perverted by the ideal of religious morality it is not an impossible background to develop a story no matter the religion or geographical zone. In this case, Haneke chooses a german, Christian, protestant, small community where guilt is a cross even its youngest member bears it with consciousness.

The father figure is a perfect and horrible example of the biblical quote “I the Lord thy God am a jealous God”. Father’s word is not to be crossed. When this happens it proves that the father is not worthy of his position, he even disappears in the most blamable manner.

Perversion due to morality it might sound contradictory. But when moral restrictions cross the path with natural development of teenagers or gayety of little children how else can it be called? The children of this community are deeply affected by a sterile, bigotist education. The atmosphere in the families is cold and traces of tenderness between the members are almost impossible to find. Signs of perversion through false, harsh morality can be recognized also in the adult characters of this community who, behind strongly affirmed moral values, hide sexual perversions, lack of sensibility, cowardice.

To balance this main part of the story, Haneke includes in this small society some outsiders. The youngest character of the community, the narrator, the nanny and the baron’s wife are strangers to this type of life. Each of them can relate to this community only to a certain level. Through their perception we, viewers, find our way out of this nightmare. We are allowed to hope that not all Christians, not all Protestants, not all small communities are terrifying. Then the war comes…

Haneke´s white is unbearable. One could feel the urge to put on the sunglasses. Shots are clear and reflect, all through the movie, the psychology of the whole community trapped in a traditionalist, burdening view on guilt and principles of good and evil.
Haneke´s camera acts like a member of the community, chooses not to take part of the burial ceremony of a suicide, remains behind closed doors when a father punishes his children and when a man first sees his dead wife, it is shy and evasive when it captures a sex scene; the perfect behavior for a good, humble, reserved Christian. The camera just, like the community, sees only what it chooses to see, to accept. The images are photographed in a way that emphasizes the psychological rigidity of the characters within. The film is shot in black and blinding white. Grey tones are hard to find. The lines that construct the images are almost exclusively horizontals and verticals. Our Lord’s cross is easy to be reproduced in every moment.

This type of purism in constructing the image adds to the merciless difference that is made between good and evil, between what’s pleasant and unpleasant in the eyes of God. It is the best vessel Haneke could choose to tell a story about the incompatibility between the pure, constant nature of an ideal-God and the fluid, changeable, diverse nature of humans aspiring towards any ideal.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by smagdada on May 21, 2010 at 13:16

    Very good! The comment and the movie!:)

    Reply

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