Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

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Thief
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Thief » Mon Mar 23, 2020 8:17 pm

Thanks for the recs!
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Popcorn Reviews
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Sat Apr 04, 2020 3:17 am

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My initial response was that Haneke was exploring where the support for Nazism came from and how the treatment of many of the village kids helped to influence this movement. As the schoolteacher says, "They could clarify some things that happened in this country". After watching the film though, I looked up some interviews only to learn Haneke denied that this film says anything about Nazism/fascism, so I realized I had to amend my reading of the film. I then came to the conclusion that Haneke was more interesting in exploring the repressive social order of the village and its effect on its inhabitants. While I wouldn't say this is a great film, I'd definitely say it does a great job at painting a bleak portrait of the village, one which is a lot more nuanced and complex than one would expect from reading a summary of its themes.

In the village, the father figures hold the most power, controlling their kids and sometimes even going against their wives. The baron lies at the top of this social order. He has a paternalistic attitude which he displays throughout the film and occasionally lectures to the villagers. Though he isn't popular, most of the villagers are dependent on him. Since he's the employer of half the village, he has the power to fire and refuse to provide work to all the members of a particular family, shown by what happens to the farmer and his family. The next prominent character is the Pastor, who ranges from strict puritanism, seen by how he restrains his son to his bed after he finds out that he masturbates, to authoritarianism, shown with his physical punishments of his kids and even his wife, to a degree. The film's title comes from how he ties white ribbons to his kids to remind them of their innocence and purity, but this motif later symbolizes the oppressive constraints placed on the kids concerning how white ribbon is used to tie the pastor's son to a bed or how ribbon is placed over a kid's eyes after he's savagely beaten. In spite of this, the pastor shows middle ground given a couple tender scenes where he allows his youngest son to care for an injured bird or how he accepts his son's gift of a bird later in the film. Another prominent character is the farmer. While we get to see some of the control he has on his family, he primarily shows us what can happen to a family who gets on the baron's bad side and he reinforces the dependency the villagers have on him. The last prominent character is the doctor. Although you initially sympathize with him, he's later revealed to be emotionally abusive to his wife (and possibly towards his previous wife) and physically abusive to his daughter. Each of these father figures contribute to the film's themes in many different ways. Due to this, it's not easy to pick up on everything from a single viewing and it usually takes a few viewings to grasp everything which goes on.

These father figures effect the children in a variety of ways, presumably causing them to carry out the acts of violence. The connection between these incidents are that they're caused by the repressive social order of the village. For instance, the farmer's son destroys the baron's cabbage field as he believes he was responsible for the death of his mother, leading to the other struggles his family undergoes throughout the film. The steward's son pushes the baron's son into the water as he was jealous of him for having a working flute (he likely had it due to his family's high position in the village) while he had trouble whittling one out of wood. The steward's violent confrontation with his son afterwards was the effect of that. It's likely that the acts we don't see are also carried out by the children. For instance, were the pastor's kids responsible for attacking the baron's son given how their Dad punished them in a similar way? Were the pastor's kids responsible for the rest of the incidents in the village concerning the conversation the schoolteacher has with the pastor at the end? The way the final act handles all these mysteries might disappoint some people, but I found the payoff to be quite unsettling. The schoolteacher's final narration stuck with me for a while after the film ended.

With all that being said, I'm not sure why Haneke chose to make the schoolteacher the protagonist. Where does he fit into all of this? Considering how fleshed out and interesting many of the other characters in the film are and how much they add to the themes, the schoolteacher feels one-dimensional by comparison. His relationship with Eva, for instance, holds such little relevance towards the film's themes, save for an admittedly interesting visit to her family where we see that the repressive social order of the village occurs elsewhere. For the most part though, I thought he was kind of boring. I wasn't quite as bothered with his character the second time around, but he still acts as a detriment to the film and locks it firmly in the really good tier.

In conclusion, I'd say this is an example of a film held back from greatness from one major issue which could've easily been fixed. In spite of that, the rest of it is truly excellent. I imagine I'll get more out of the film if I were to watch it again since there's so much to unpack from it in terms of all the character dynamics (I know I didn't say much about the steward). If you haven't seen this one, I highly recommend it.
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Popcorn Reviews
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Sat Apr 04, 2020 4:06 pm

Anyways, the first round went pretty well. My rankings for them would go like this:

1) The House is Black - 10/10
2) Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors - 9/10
3) Minnie and Moskowitz - 9/10
4) The White Ribbon - 7/10
5) Greed - 7/10
6) Things to Come - 7/10
7) Forbidden Planet - 6/10

Here's the next set of films I plan to review in this thread:

The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005, Puiu)
Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959, Resnais)
I Know Where I'm Going! (1945, Powell and Pressburger)
Invaders from Mars (1953, Menzies)
Taste of Cherry (1997, Kiarostami)
The Tenant (1976, Polanski)
The Wild Bunch (1969, Peckinpah)
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Ergill
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Ergill » Sat Apr 04, 2020 5:34 pm

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 3:17 am
My initial response was that Haneke was exploring where the support for Nazism came from and how the treatment of many of the village kids helped to influence this movement. As the schoolteacher says, "They could clarify some things that happened in this country". After watching the film though, I looked up some interviews only to learn Haneke denied that this film says anything about Nazism/fascism, so I realized I had to amend my reading of the film. I then came to the conclusion that Haneke was more interesting in exploring the repressive social order of the village and its effect on its inhabitants. While I wouldn't say this is a great film, I'd definitely say it does a great job at painting a bleak portrait of the village, one which is a lot more nuanced and complex than one would expect from reading a summary of its themes.
I haven't read all his interviews on the subject, but a quick search gave an opening quote where he says "It’s important to me that the film isn’t interpreted as being solely about German Fascism." I'd emphasize "solely". I take that to mean he doesn't want to fall into an historical-artistic uniqueness trap where everyone tries to just reduce it to a Nazi allegory. That doesn't mean it has nothing to say about Nazism or didn't have it mind, because I think it's clear that it did. It just wasn't after explaining Nazism full-stop and it had a much more general subject in mind.
Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 3:17 am
With all that being said, I'm not sure why Haneke chose to make the schoolteacher the protagonist. Where does he fit into all of this? Considering how fleshed out and interesting many of the other characters in the film are and how much they add to the themes, the schoolteacher feels one-dimensional by comparison. His relationship with Eva, for instance, holds such little relevance towards the film's themes, save for an admittedly interesting visit to her family where we see that the repressive social order of the village occurs elsewhere. For the most part though, I thought he was kind of boring. I wasn't quite as bothered with his character the second time around, but he still acts as a detriment to the film and locks it firmly in the really good tier.
I don't have some ready excuse for the guy and his sideplot on the whole, but he worked well enough for me as a partial filter in the film. He's basically a decent and unexceptional guy: Fritz Jedermann. He gives you the sense of the bystander unable to process the forces at play around him, and the fact that he may have unwittingly slipped into complicity just adds another layer.

Anyway, liked your review.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Sat Apr 04, 2020 6:39 pm

Ergill wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 5:34 pm
I haven't read all his interviews on the subject, but a quick search gave an opening quote where he says "It’s important to me that the film isn’t interpreted as being solely about German Fascism." I'd emphasize "solely". I take that to mean he doesn't want to fall into an historical-artistic uniqueness trap where everyone tries to just reduce it to a Nazi allegory. That doesn't mean it has nothing to say about Nazism or didn't have it mind, because I think it's clear that it did. It just wasn't after explaining Nazism full-stop and it had a much more general subject in mind.
Okay, fair enough. I didn't catch the part where he said that Nazism/fascism wasn't the only thing he wanted to discuss, but a rewatch of the interview I was referring to earlier confirms your reading. I think that, since the film ends when WW1 starts, this does seem to suggest that the actions of the children will escalate to shape German history in the future.
Ergill wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 5:34 pm
I don't have some ready excuse for the guy and his sideplot on the whole, but he worked well enough for me as a partial filter in the film. He's basically a decent and unexceptional guy: Fritz Jedermann. He gives you the sense of the bystander unable to process the forces at play around him, and the fact that he may have unwittingly slipped into complicity just adds another layer.

Anyway, liked your review.
I will agree that his conversation with the pastor and his kids provides some depth to him, and I did admire him for what you described. It's just that I'm typically involved in the actions of the other father figures (the baron, the pastor, the farmer, and the doctor) since they shape the kids the most in the village. Seeing his reactions to the affair and his inability to make sense of them serve to show things I'm not interesting in watching. Also, some of his interactions with Eva have a tender feel to them and I'm not sure that's something I want to see considering how bleak the rest of the film is. The pastor also displayed some tenderness, but that wasn't his defining characteristic throughout the majority of the film. Many of the schoolteachers' scenes don't mean much to me other than a couple scenes within the film and the final act. Thinking about him a bit more though, I will take back the word "boring" from my review.
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Ergill
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Ergill » Sat Apr 04, 2020 7:53 pm

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 6:39 pm
Okay, fair enough. I didn't catch the part where he said that Nazism/fascism wasn't the only thing he wanted to discuss, but a rewatch of the interview I was referring to earlier confirms your reading. I think that, since the film ends when WW1 starts, this does seem to suggest that the actions of the children will escalate to shape German history in the future.
The kids are also in the generation that provided the front lines for National Socialism.
Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 6:39 pm
I will agree that his conversation with the pastor and his kids provides some depth to him, and I did admire him for what you described. It's just that I'm typically involved in the actions of the other father figures (the baron, the pastor, the farmer, and the doctor) since they shape the kids the most in the village. Seeing his reactions to the affair and his inability to make sense of them serve to show things I'm not interesting in watching. Also, some of his interactions with Eva have a tender feel to them and I'm not sure that's something I want to see considering how bleak the rest of the film is. The pastor also displayed some tenderness, but that wasn't his defining characteristic throughout the majority of the film. Many of the schoolteachers' scenes don't mean much to me other than a couple scenes within the film and the final act. Thinking about him a bit more though, I will take back the word "boring" from my review.
Hey, if he bored you, so be it. No need to take back the term. I kind of like the tender side he and Eva bring to the movie. A rare thing in Haneke and he does it well. Thematically, I don't really have great excuse for it on hand. I trust Haneke has his reasons.
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Stu
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Stu » Mon Apr 06, 2020 5:35 am

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 4:06 pm
Here's the next set of films I plan to review in this thread:

The Wild Bunch (1969, Peckinpah)
Yay! First time watching?
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Popcorn Reviews
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Mon Apr 06, 2020 5:48 am

Stu wrote:
Mon Apr 06, 2020 5:35 am
Yay! First time watching?
Yep. It's also my first Peckinpah.
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