hoice to not use any color palette aside from gray, black, and white in the movie creates a gripping sense of drama and the unexpected that helps to place the viewer on the edge of his seat.
The story is kicked off by the voice of a narrator, an old man who had previously lived in the village and experienced the mysterious events that remained without answers. His narration is supposed to be a hindsight explanation of how the Germans eventually fell prey to the Fascism of Adolf Hitler during World War 2. In his mind, the reasons behind the rise of the Third Reich and the potential targeting of the Jews can be traced back, at least for him and those whom he knew, to the way that their little village was run by the Baron and its other residents in a similar fashion during the years leading up to World War 1. The children who grew up during this era were after all, the very same children who came into adulthood during the time of Hitler and delivered the power he so craved to him when he asked for it. Hanke, as a film maker, dug deep into the history of the two world wars that Germany was directly involved in order to successfully portray the complex love and hate relationships of the village residents that served as the catalyst of violence within the community. Borrowing from American literature, the children who wore the “White Ribbon” on their arms reminds one of the evil and judgment that accompanied the women who wore the “Scarlett Letter” in Nathaniel Hawthornes historic American literary work.
The incestuous relationship between the doctor and his 14 year old daughter proves the kind of complex relationship between the residents of the village. Although the doctor loved her father, as shown at the beginning after his fall from his horse, she also despised him for abusing her. The wife of the Baron, was in a hurtful love affair with the same doctor whom she could not leave. By interweaving the lives of these people, we begin a study in human nature