||Something is wrong in the village. Some malevolent force, some rot in the foundation. This wrongness is first sensed in a series of incidental "accidents." Then the maiming of a child takes place. This forces the villagers, who all know one another, to look around more carefully. Is one of them guilty? How can that be? One person couldn't be responsible for all of these disturbing events. Have many been seized in an evil contagion?...We are told the story many years after it took place, by the schoolteacher (Ernst Jacobi). In the film, we see him young (Christian Friedel). The old man intends to narrate with objectivity and precision. He'll draw no conclusions. He doesn't have the answers. He'll stick to the facts. The first fact is this: While out riding one morning, the doctor (Rainer Bock) was injured when his horse stumbled because of a trip wire. Someone put the wire there. Could they have even known the doctor would be their victim?...Other incidents occur. A barn is burned. A child is found murdered. Someone did each of these things. The same person could not easily have done all of them. There is information about where various people were at various times. It's like an invitation to play Sherlock Holmes and deduce the criminal. But in The White Ribbon, there are no barking hounds. The clues don't match. Who is to even say something is a clue? It might simply be a fact seen in the light of suspicion...I wonder if Haneke's point is that we grow so disturbed by danger that we will surrender freedom -- even demand to. Do we feel more secure in an orderly state? Many do. Then a tipping point arrives, and the Berlin Wall falls, or we see the Green Revolution in Iran. The problem, as philosophers have noted, is that revolutionaries grow obsessed with enforcing their revolution, and the whole process begins again...Haneke's genius is to embed these possibilities in films rooted in the daily lives of ordinary people. He denies us the simple solutions of most films, in which everything is settled by the violent victory of one side. His films are like parables, teaching that bad things sometimes happen simply because they . . . happen. The universe laughs at man's laws and does what it will...The film is visually masterful. It's in black and white, of course. Color would be fatal to its power. Perhaps because black-and-white film stock is hard to find, Haneke filmed in color and drained it away. If a color version is ever released, you'll see why it's wrong. Just as it is, The White Ribbon tells a simple story in a village about little people and suggests that we must find a balance between fear and security.