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…
I will forever remember August 17, 2014 as the best day for first-time watches ever. Based on reviews for this film, I thought I was in for something certainly thought-provoking, but perhaps also quite boring. The film is constructed of 35 long takes - and it's two and a half hours long. But Bela Tarr's masterpiece is never boring, in fact, it's almost constantly engaging, both because of and in spite of its deliberately glacial pace. Werckmeister Harmonies had the strangest effect on me. I couldn't look away, but until the end of the film, I failed to understand why I couldn't look away. I never checked my phone for the time. I let a call buzz, the frequency floating…
Werckmeister Harmonies is a film about complacency. It is like a father, asking "Why did you fail?". But the father doesn't ask you but instead himself in the mirror, covering in shame as you secretly watch from the sidelines. "Why did you give up?" "Why did you fall into this life?" And these aren't even questions loaded with a sense of guilt or certainly not anger. They're questions intended to create an understanding of a philosophical statement that has already formed in the head of the father; that the human condition is, if nothing else, complacency. As the character of György Eszter, whom we also leave the film with, discusses the titular theory of the Werckmeister Harmonies, it becomes clear…
Sometimes the long shots felt like moving photographs, allowing the viewer to see everything at once. It allows one to focus on different parts of the same image. The part that first gave me this impression is the long take where Janos and his uncle walk into town together. The camera fixates itself on their faces at a certain distance and doesn't move, but they are moving. You see the movement of the wall beside them. You hear them walking. Their faces move ever so slightly. Janos occasionally blinks and looks over at his uncle. Why would a film want to emulate, yet not be, a photograph? It's a simple image, yet since it was such a long take it…
Beautiful photography and excellent soundtrack. The final scene is very moving.
I'm not going to pretend that I understand this film by Bela Tarr, who directed Satantango also (which I love). It's set in a small town in Hungary, where a travelling circus arrives which carries a huge whale, the many visitors disturbs the order of the small town. I love this film! I think anyone who has patience can enjoy it too, as the countless tracking shots which seem to last longer than they should beg for viewers who can wait. It's something I'll watch many many times again just to understand what the film is really about, and for me it's what I want from the films I see.
There's something very captivating about this movie, for a lot of people it might be incredibly boring (and at some points it is), but for the most part I found it mesmerizing. The way we almost always see the main character walking to the locations that he goes to as opposed to just cutting right to it really brings a sense of time and scale to the town. This also makes it feel very real, yet it is also vaguely surreal, for example: how everyone greets the main character Janos with "how's Janos?" , the entire situation with the whale and overheard conversation with the Prince, and that other than the two young children, Janos appears the only relatively young…
I am a big fan of grand, minimalist films with long takes and surrealist touches and I'm perfectly happy with not much happening. These kinds of films feel like my inner stream of consciousness coming to life and remind me of dreams, arguably the greatest feeling a work of art can provoke in me. But I hate political allegories. They are the opposite of the freedom that dreams and inner space withhold. They always feel forced and it always seems to make its creators feel smart while actually looking painfully naive. Yes, there's some nice imagery here but I simply have no shits to give about the post-World War II politics of my own country, let alone Hungary. Maybe this will age better in my head over time.
Tarr seems to know what's coming (9/11) or what's been happening (Bosnia). Some extremely disturbing scenes of things falling apart (two boys who won't go to bed) and things that cannot be comprehended (the Prince and the whale). It's Eisenstein via Welles and David Lynch, and why not throw in Hanna Schygulla since someone needs to keep RWF's legacy alive as the millennium ends and we are all slouching towards Bethlehem?
The cavernous analysis of the human condition is apparently shown in "Werckmeister Harmonies", the film profoundly shows the fact that humans aren't entirely aware of their existence. The opening sequence is publicly acknowledged for it's beautiful images and if we closely pay attention to the details, we intimately find out that the camera movement is pure genius. The film poses a question to it's audience, what is life? Tarr himself wouldn't answer this question due to it's complexity.
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most recent update - Sunday, August 3, 2014, 3:02 PM EST
The letterboxd crew has unveiled a new feature that…
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