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…
Poor guy just wants to see a whale carcass.
Great opening, great mise en scene, great and affecting music, but kind of soft in the middle with a denouement that subverts what I thought was a good climax. I was confused about the time period (I've now read its WWII) and about the whale itself. Was it once real, I guess? I think that's what he was going for but I also thought Janos was a simpleton and the only one who thought it real, but I guess not. I still think Janos was a pleb who is supposed to represent the viewer; a neutral but not entirely innocent perspective in a war-torn area. Well, the film at least made ME feel simple, and I've no problem with that…
That 10-minute dance scene in the bar is the most beautiful opening scene I've seen... wow
Contender for the best opening scene and best screenplay of the 2000's.
Bella Tarr is a director which I couldn't love. After watching this film I'm definitely beginning to change. No other film uses his style the best. The score is haunting and used during the best times possible with limited repetition. The way the details in every scene work very, very well with the length of the shots. There are many scenes that inspired a lot of my favorite movies (Upstream Color, Synecdoche New York) and that have definitely inspired me to try out new things in filmmaking.
All this being said, I'm a bit polarised by the story and I'm not too sure if I love it, reminds…
I can't begin to understand why this is such a beloved film, and I love The Turin Horse. Help me.
Lincoln Center, New York, New York, with Aaron W. and Josef K.
A sleepy Hungarian town is turned on its head when a circus featuring a giant whale and a mysterious character (whom we never see, only hear) comes to town. The local populace become so unsettled by this arrival they eventually turn to violence and disorder.
I'm almost loathe to comment on this after one watch, it's a demanding movie that I don't feel I totally got to grips with. It runs at an absolute funeral pace and its lengthy run time is broken down into remarkably few scenes. What would take half a minute in most films takes 5 or 6 here, in pure story telling terms you could cut this in two and tell the same tale. But the…
Amazing movie. Bela Tarr's direction is just great,