At the heart of the film- or a little to one side- is the most delicate love story.
The White Ribbon looks like a Bergman movie. Quite deliberately so. The digital footage has been manipulated to resemble Sven Nykvist's black and white cinematography of the 1960s, the pastor- a man capable of great gentleness and the coldest cruelty- looks a lot like Gunnar Bjornstrand and there's a scene between a professional man and his mistress that closely mirrors a famous scene in Winter Light. This isn't the slavish imitation of a disciple, it's one master tipping his hat to another as they pass on the road. Haneke has earned the right.