Michael Haneke’s period political epic, which earned the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, tells the lacerating saga of collective brutality and guilt in a northern-German village two decades before Hitler came to power. The town is troubled by seemingly random acts of violence on animals, property and a few local children. What’s happening? Who’s to blame? Perhaps everyone, as we discover by following the lives of five prominent families. A Mensa mashup of Our Town and Village of the Damned, the film is both draining and enthralling, sternly minimalist and beautifully filmed (in black and white). Working with the skill of an autopsy surgeon, Haneke depicts a town where the adults’ passions have soured into prejudices, yet children are so desperate to please their parents, they often burst into tears. The White Ribbon is as epic as any Tolkien or Rowling movie adaptation, but it’s also an epic tragedy: of the monstrous evil that corrupts and destroys ordinary folks. Most films don’t even consider the enormity of a society’s power to crush the best instincts of its people. This one says, Don’t look away. Look here.