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…
A Whale Of A Tale!
Goodbye to criticism.
capatalism comes to backwater communist town and turns commoners lives upside down
International Cinema of the 21st Century: #6
Finally scratched this one off the list after years of hearing about it- I was expecting a bit of a beautiful chore, but this one turned out to be mostly just gripping and affecting-two and a half hours gone by quite fast. Also single handedly responsible for reigniting the career of Gus Van Sant. As allegory, it's masterful. One theme many of the films in this marathon have had- what it's like to live under the spectral oppression of communist dictatorship. As if there was just a huge buildup of repressed rage, trauma and sorrow waiting til post 1989 to be released, that could only be processed after a little bit of distance, in the opening decade of the 21st Century.
I have seen nothing but glowing reviews for this film, so my expectations were high.
There were a couple of things I really liked. But the redeeming qualities of this were simply too few and far between to keep me interested.
Ultimately I was disappointed.
I have always been one to expand my film watching remits and seek out loftily regarded pictures such as Bela Tarr's Werckmeister Harmonies in a hope to find that, I too, hold the film in high regard. Alas, a film as vague and uninviting as this, I had quite a time enduring it. I have since read up many reviews and theories on what potential the Hungarian auteur is trying to say in this picture, and whilst much of it makes sense, I am in the 'not for me' camp at this time. I am sure that in time I will revisit the picture, perhaps with a better understanding of it.
Ho finalmente rotto gli indugi con Béla Tarr, complice il prezioso "Fuori Orario" su Rai 3 (in realtà ho da un po' il DVD di Sátántangó ma non ho il coraggio di approcciarlo...). Ho cominciato con questo film, dilatatissimo ma mai noioso, che mi ha abbondantemente saziato. Freddo ma non distaccato, lo sguardo del regista indugia su particolari sempre funzionali a delineare i personaggi e complice una stratosferica fotografia e scenografie desertiche (che si animano gradualmente) ti ammalia e ti rapisce. Visionario e ricco di simbolismi. Strepitosa la drammatica colonna sonora.
astonishing, endlessly fascinating. This film transcended everything I thought I knew about editing and the long take
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 . . .’ the guard shrugged, pulling a sour face), the only two serviceable old wooden-seated coaches maintained for just such an ‘emergency’ were coupled to an obsolete and unreliable 424, used only as a last resort, and put to work, albeit…
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most recent update - Friday, November 22, 2014
The letterboxd crew has unveiled a new feature that allows users to…
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