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The White Ribbon [UK Release] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: German DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Classification: 15
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: Artificial Eye
  • Blu-ray Release Date: March 15, 2010
  • RRP: £19.99

[amazon-product align=”right” region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B001G6UPGQ[/amazon-product] Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:5/5]

Director Michael Haneke’s 2009 Cannes Palm D’or winner and 2010 Golden Globe Winner for Best Foreign Language Film is a grim, almost scary look at German provincial life in the early 20th Century. Set in 1913 over the entire year leading up to World War I, The White Ribbon is probably the most compelling and perplexed look at provincial life and its secrets since the works of Thomas Hardy.

Shot in a gloriously stark black and white, the story tells of the rigidly protestant small German village of Eichwald, in which the people live a near feudal existence, with everyone in the village in the employ of The Baron (Ulrich Tukur). You’ll notice, as well, none of the characters are given specific names, just general ones (The School Teacher, The Doctor, The Baron, etc.). Mysterious accidents begin to happen, starting with the town Doctor (Rainer Bock) being thrown from his horse and injuring his arm, leaving the entire village without medical attention. What ensues are more tragic events that turn the townsfolk on one another with suspicions and The School Teacher (Christian Friedel) down a path of investigation that exposes “evils” at the underbelly of the otherwise tranquil community.  At every turn, one will notice as well, the children of the village involved in nearly every tragedy. Haneke carefully uses them to haunt or perhaps even tease the viewers. Are they the cause of these misfortunes, the victims alone, or a mere symbol of the looming loss of innocence facing the world with the dawning of its first world war?

In fact, this latter question can sum up the question that hangs over the entire film. The White Ribbon, as beautiful and engaging as it is, is quite frustrating in that it answers no questions, nor does it seek to. It fills its story with compelling characters then turns them generic by making them nameless. Through all of this, it retains a dour atmosphere that can’t help but be completely riveting. Between the bleak black and white and the lingering cinematography of Christian Berger, whose lens lands on the faces of the film’s young stars like twisted angels, The White Ribbon is breathtaking visually and emotionally taxing.

Video Quality

[Rating:5/5]

Enthusiasts will know that often times even older black and white transfers will outshine their younger color counterparts in high definition. Imagine the case with newly filmed black and white material flawlessly rendered in HD? That’s the case with this glorious 1.85:1 1080p encoding on Blu-ray of The White Ribbon from Artificial Eye. There is perfect contrast, pure whites, black, blacks and just the right amount of grain to impart a film-like veneer.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The German DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless mix sometimes tends towards thinness of sound, but there are nice amounts of atmospherics, albeit mixed at a tediously low level, in the surround channels and a good spread of stereo activity across the front. Dialogue often sounds a bit too pushed forward, but it is clear, even if t is weighted to the center.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2/5]

An interview with Michael Haneke and an above average “making of” featurette anchor a thin-feeling supplemental section on this release.

The supplements provided with this release are:

  • Interview (1.78:1; 1080i/50) — An Interview with Michael Haneke
  • Making of (1.78:1; 1080i/50)
  • Cannes festival (1.78:1; 1080i/50)
  • Portrait (1.78:1; 1080i/50)
  • Trailer (1.85:1; 1080i/50)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon is quiet and complex, visually and cerebrally pleasing, and frustrating all at once. It’s all of the things that a great film should be. This haunting piece of work looks superb in its British Blu-ray release from Artificial Eye and comes highly recommended by this reviewer.

Additional Screen Captures:

[amazon-product align=”right” region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B001G6UPGQ[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

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