Part of Next Projection's series "Apocalyptic Poetry: The Films of Béla Tarr"
Since the passenger train connecting the icebound estates of the southern lowlands, which extend from the banks of the Tisza almost as far as the foot of the Carpathians, had, despite the garbled explanations of a haplessly stumbling guard and the promises of the stationmaster rushing nervously on and off the platform, failed to arrive (‘Well, squire, it seems to have disappeared into thin air again . .…
You'll forgive the inherent auteurism when I say this sees an early emergence of Herzog's notion of the "ecstatic truth": the way he seems to prod the eccentrics that espouse nonsense to his camera constitutes both a bizarre divergence from the verisimilitude of the documentary format and, somehow, in the way they speak rather than the words they say, the reality of their lives. It's very strange, and strangely confident in itself too. And blimey does it look good.
Certain films you love because they touch you personally. Others you love because they tell a story so gripping you feel part of it yourself. Some you love for their part in shaping you as a cinephile, even as a person. Then there are the handful of films you love simply because you must love: because they represent so bold an authorial vision, so striking a view of the world, so wholly unique a perspective on life through cinema, that…
Why do I hold Werckmeister Harmonies aloft as the greatest film I have ever seen? A huge part of it, admittedly, and the thing that makes me think it will remain my favourite film to the day I die, is its profound personal relevance. I first saw the film about 5 years ago now, at a time when my interest in cinema was in the very very earliest stages of blossoming. It blew me away. Takes that long, images that…