Set in a rural German village in 1913, brutal authority is enforced by the baron and the pastor. Malevolent occurences involving the upper class gradually take on the character of a punishment ritual. A school teacher investigates and slowly discovers the incredible truth.
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Haneke is here less concerned with cinematic problems of the 'real' and our bandaged spectatorship, presenting his subject through moralist conventions while holding out on the mollification of narrative anxiety. His subtexts of class conflict, fascism, and punishment/purification are conservative, and between the inchoate and the reductive, advance without the ambiguity and iridescence that moves them actually.
Once again Haneke presents a sociological scrutiny of various peoples. He even surprised me visually, as I've often found his visual style to be off-putting and flat. Still, it didn't burn brightly as to ignite me. But that's just me…
A solid effort from the Austrian master. The overall feeling of impotence, opression and contained violence permeates this excellent film, definetly one to take into consideration despite falling a little short in comparison to his early works. Needless to say, this was absolutely the best Oscar nominee in its branch, and dare I say in the whole competition.