Every film from Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" essays.
This story takes place in a small town on the Hungarian Plain. In a provincial town, which is surrounded with nothing else but frost. It is bitterly cold weather — without snow. Even in this bewildered cold hundreds of people are standing around the circus tent, which is put up in the main square, to see — as the outcome of their wait — the chief attraction, the stuffed carcass of a real whale. The people are coming from everywhere. From the neighboring settlings, even from quite far away parts of the country. They are following this clumsy monster as a dumb, faceless, rag-wearing crowd. This strange state of affairs — the appearance of the foreigners, the extreme frost — disturbs the order of the small town. Ambitious personages of the story feel they can take advantage of this situation. The tension growing to the unbearable is brought to explosion by the figure of the Prince, who is pretending facelessness. Even his mere appearance is enough to break loose destructive emotions...
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 symbolic, music that intoxicating, scenes that spellbinding, meanings that elusive... it was far too much for my uninitiated mind to deal with, but I knew that it was changing me. What's funny is that I encountered it entirely by mistake:…
There is no comfort in the worlds created by Bela Tarr. He has the unique ability to create his very own universe within the stories he chooses to relate. Otherworldly, yet real, Tarr's earth is a singularly harsh and unforgiving place, a place in which he chooses to explore what we are and where we are headed.
Werckmeister Harmonies is no different. In harrowing black and white we are transported to an anonymous Hungarian town, out of which life is slowly seeping away. It is a desolate place, struck by poverty and inhabited by people for whom life is very hard. While we follow mailman Janos (the focal point of the story), we slowly pick up snippets of how bad…
PTAbro's World Tour Stop 11: Hungary
"The world has gone completely mad. Now it's not down here, but up there where something's gone wrong."
János is a simple man; a servant and an idealist. Always being tasked with jobs no one else wants to do, like putting unruly children to bed or delivering an ultimatum to his closest friend from his conniving ex-wife, it is poetic that what he's actually paid to do is deliver the news that no one else wants to hear. Everyone around him refuses to hear the truth, and since it is his job to do so, he is relegated to a gopher in order to delay his inevitable announcements until it is too late. It's…
Part of the 30 countries festival. Hungary
"For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." – Matthew 12:40
Werckmeister Harmonies... Three days in the life of János, three days in the making of a revolution in a small Hungarian town, three days of threat, darkness, ignorance, duplicity. A three day eclipse of the sun/Son.
"And just imagine, in this infinite sonorous silence, everywhere is an impenetrable darkness. Here, we only experience general motion, and at first, we don't notice the events that we are witnessing" – János Valuska asking three drunks to play the sun, the moon…
Revolution rolls through the hidden towns and villages of Eastern Europe, leaving a trail of destructive mythology in its wake. Like the countless dictators that have come before it this dark, moving force holds captive one of the wonders of the world, God's magnificence held within a giant steal container. Wherever it comes to rest its unsettling presence moulds chaos from tranquility.
The omnipotence of a higher power lingers behind the framing of Bela Tarr's slow hypnotic takes taking in the fragility of man still so easily shaped and corrupted by elements beyond our control. His camera moves gracefully around the town following Janos through his routine in the first half of the film in sequences that induce a dreamlike…
Part of Lise and Jonnie’s What A Wonderful World: May 30 days, 30 countries.
Film 5 – May 5 – Hungary
My initial reaction after watching Werckmeister Harmonies ( besides running up to the cold dark attic and burying myself in whatever fodder I could find ) was to chicken out and toss off a non-review as I had done with The Turin Horse. Maybe a quip about the Prince, maybe an observation that Giant Whales coming to town is never a good sign. No, I’ll try to at least put down some impressions without any time to contemplate.
Since there is no way to compare Werckmeister to any film that I’ve ever seen except my only other Tarr, I’ll…
Nach dem Ende von Sátántangó erzählt Tarr erst mal vom Licht, das wiederkommt. Das ist vielleicht die berührendste interfilmische Referenz, die ich kenne. Und deswegen machen Werkschauen Sinn. Diese kleinen ungewöhnlichen Momente, wenn die Natur das Erwartbare durchbricht, die gab es auch schon in Sátántangó (die Glocke, die Pferde in der Stadt), waren dort aber nur ein kleiner Riss in der Monotonie des Lebens, ein Hinweis auf eine herrschende Willkür (einer eventuell höheren Macht oder auch nicht). Hier aber drängen diese Anomalien in den Vordergrund. Sie sind das bestimmende Gesetz des Films, das die bereits labile gesellschaftliche Ordnung vollends eskalieren lässt in einem letzten, verzweifelten Aufbäumen des Menschen, bevor dann auch noch die Natur in A torinói ló nach und…
Béla Tarr is a master filmmaker, as cliché as that might be to say. Really though, he's up there with Tarkovsky, Bergman and all the other maestros of cinema. Werckmeister Harmonies is the best film of the 21st century so far, and it's going to be tough to beat. In it there's a visual and metaphorical battle between darkness and light, taking place in that world that Tarr creates so well in his films. You know, the roads with no cars on; buildings so bleak they're concentration camp-like. It's dismal here, really dismal.
The opening shot (one of a stunning 39 in a film two and a half hours long), is cinematic perfection. It sets up everything to come in…
Bela Tarr is a director like none other. In watching his films, one seems to enter into real time... perceptions are sharpened because he allows us temporal space to watch and observe. In a sense the viewer becomes voyeur.
This gloomy fable, set in a remote eastern European village, is probably an allegory of Hungary's recent communist past but like George Orwell's "Animal Farm" its lessons are universal. Young Janos (Lars Rudolph) has a natural curiosity about science... only he can explain to the drunken slugs at the local tavern the celestial magic of a solar eclipse, and he does this with a fascinating bit of improvised Terpsichore.
Every day is winter in Bela Tarr's world... the skies are gray…
I wish I could rate this film 6 stars. I think this might be the most beautiful film I have ever seen. I cannot do it justice by writing about it. Just go watch it.
A hypnotic, unique movie, Werckmeister Harmonies is impossible to describe in any sort of regular way. It's a film whose sole purpose is not to entertain, but to enlighten, to some degree. Bela Tarr has made a Lynch film by way of Tarkovsky but even that description doesn't do this movie justice. Indeed, it has a great many things on it's mind from spirituality, to fear, and even a profound theory on modern music and the disharmony within. I will certainly need a second viewing to sort out just how I feel about this movie and to take everything in once more. As it stands, Werckmeister Harmonies works brilliantly as an existential drama of a spiritual nature.
That scene with the two naughty little boys clanging cymbals and screaming into a fan is one of the most disturbingly perfect pictures of chaos I've ever seen. Incredible cinema.
A milestone for me, personally. Tarr changed the way I felt about cinema.
A cycle of confusion echoed down from the universe under the presence of false prophets and true beauty. Identifying the humanity in wonders both cosmic and faith-based as a means of coping with our mistakes.
A mysteriously told revolution, brought on by marine monsters and unseen Princes. Shown through evocative long shots that outlast both the characters, their fury and their motives. Once the camera stands still, some human dignity might yet be retrieved from the wreckage.
Many favorites, as well as a small handful of films that I don't care for... in no particular order (1960-2014).
Combined the average ratings (Critic's & Users) from IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and Letterboxd, and then weighted and tweaked the results…