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 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.
Humane state of chaos. Tarr perfectly balances between dream and reality but still stays in reality. The imagery is dream-like or rather nightmare-like but the way these images are executed resembles nothing but life. Continuing tracking shots and long shots create the feeling of breathing and living story. It doesn't try to reach the kind of one shot illusion like Birdman but it does something much bigger, it creates admirable pace and rhythm of images, montage of life. It's the kind of montage that we admire, study and look up to but ultimately it is invisible. And what the film is about? I'm sure that people come up with solutions and conclusions but I never came up with one. By…
My favorite film for my entire adult life, nothing else comes close
How do you get ready for a movie that's supposedly very meditative, dark and slow with its notorious 36 long takes?
Simple, you just hype it up for yourself. You've never seen it and you think you already have.
And the best of it all: it's when a movie is a thousand times better than you've ever imagined.
I'm certainly not smart enough to review this film. Very artful but also very boring. I have no desire to ever watch this again. And now I know I can't try and do Satantango.
p.s. I do really like the way that Mark Cousins says "Bela Tarr" in The Story of Film: An Odyssey. That's all I have ...
This is a strange, mesmerizing film with many long shots (39 shots, in fact), some of them with no dialogue. Director Bela Tarr sets this film in a small town in Hungary during the Soviet occupation after WW2. It's a frozen, snowless winter.
The opening scene, shot in a tavern, is a classic. Janos, a young man who spends his days caring for his extended family, is asked to demonstrate an eclipse, which he does by choreographing the drunken patrons to simulate the movement of sun, moon and earth.
The ominous event on which the whole town is focused is the pending arrival of a circus truck with a giant stuffed whale and the mysterious Prince. There are rumors that…
It's fitting that the film should open with men in a bar simulating the movement of the cosmos and a description of the way a solar eclipse leaves earthly beings in awed silence. It sets the stage for Tarr to spend the rest of the film closely tracking the movements of every character through light and dark spaces in an attempt to understand the turbulence that eventually occurs.
The first time we hear the film's melancholic score is when we hear of the way all animals are overcome with emotion when, during a solar eclipse, the moon moves out of the way and starts letting sunlight return to the Earth. The score is used sparingly, only three times in the…
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…