I’m growing terrified that people are going to forget how to photograph a film in black and white. There’s less and less call for dramatic films shot in the classic palette; or, I suppose, less and less commercial justification.
Austria’s Michael Haneke doesn’t care about commercial justification, though, and so we have his White Ribbon, shot in glorious black and white (by Haneke regular Christian Berger), premiering in competition at Cannes. Devin ran one photo a while back (in his 2009 ‘Exciting Directors’ piece) that may or may not have been a real pic from the film.
But this still, which ran in Empire’s Cannes preview last week, is definitely real. It is also beautiful and frightening. The shadows are deep and the look on the boy’s face is difficult to identify. The boy, the cross, the tones; it could almost be Bergman, if not quite Dreyer. The story takes place at a boy’s school in 1913, and contains odd acts of violence, unusual forms of ritual punishment, tension between the school and community and, somehow, the rise of Fascism.
If that’s not enough, Jean-Claude Carriere contributed to the screenplay. Who’s that guy? Just some dude. Wrote movies no one likes: The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Belle du Jour, The Tin Drum, The Return of Martin Guerre and That Obscure Object of Desire. (OK, he also co-wrote Birth, but you can’t get ‘em all right.)
I find things to love in all of his films, and Haneke’s last two efforts, Funny Games and Cache, have been favorites in their respective years. I want a trailer for White Ribbon yesterday, please.