At the beginning of Michael Haneke's new film THE WHITE RIBBON, the narrator, who sounds quite the ancient fellow, tells us that his story about what hap-
pened in this little German town de-
cades ago could perhaps clarify cer-
tain events that oc-
curred later. What? Herr Haneke (Code Unknown, Caché) is finally making things clear? Well, yes and no.
The White Ribbon is certainly among the most seemingly straight-for-
ward narratives that this German writer/director (shown at left) has given us. In a movie-making class by himself, Haneke is an expert craftsman whose work sometime approaches art. It's a sad, often despairing art, but unless you are one of those who must look at the world through the rose-colored (and too often hypocritical) glasses of religion, or one who wants his movies mainstream -- and happy, goddamnit! -- this is art that reflects all too well the state of humanity.