I saw The White Ribbon at the Telluride Film Festival. It’s a well crafted film about some very problematic children in Germany just before the first world war.
The movie is intended to in some way illuminate a fertile ground that permits fascism to later grow. While I found the characters interesting and the cinematography particularly beautiful in some scenes, I did not find anything in the story that seemed to suggest that these people were atypically prepared to turn fascist.
The premise seems to be that the children have committed some particularly brutal and random crimes (stringing a wire in the path of a horse and breaking the shoulder of the rider, tying another child up and caning him, tying yet another up and possibly blinding him) and that these “punishments” were “visited” on the children of sinners (except the first, visited on the sinner himself or perhaps on his horse), as justified in a letter left with the last.
That children would commit atrocious acts of brutality is hardly unique and certainly insufficient as an explanation for the rise of the Nazi party. Further, the parent’s “sins” are not particularly shocking, though the doctor isn’t overwhelmingly sympathetic despite having a particularly funny sex scene.
It is a well-constructed character study, if a bit slow; a story of some complex and dramatic events, if lacking a strong conclusion; but not for me a revelatory view of the foundations of fascism.