2009 • Germany • Directed by Michael Haneke
Themes of guilt and denial haunt this riveting Palme d’Or-winning masterpiece by Funny Games and Amour director Michael Haneke. In a village in Protestant northern Germany on the eve of World War I, a series of unsettling and distressing incidents take place. Taken together, they assume the character of a ritual in which punishment and torture dominate. But the identity of the perpetrators remains a mystery. A schoolteacher who has observed the unfolding incidents investigates and, little by little, discovers the disturbing truth. Are we being asked to consider whether these events heralded something that would explode years later with the rise of Nazi Germany? Did these events contain the germs of the tragedies that followed? Haneke has never been one to give us answers, often leaving us with more questions at the end of his film.