Movies that are slightly off.
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…
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 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…
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…
Finally, I've gotten around to watching a film by Bela Tarr. I remember when I first saw Satantango on IMDb as 15-year old thinking that it had to be some sort of inside joke that a 7 and a half hour long black-and-white Hungarian film had such a good rating. I've obviously dismissed that belief long ago, but haven't been able to understand the praise of Bela Tarr's film until just recently. So now that I've finally seen this film, what can I say about Werckmeister Harmonies that no one has said before, probably nothing, but I'll just say what I think about it.
This is a highly symbolic film with a dash of surrealism, as one would in many…
Video essay on Tarr can be found here:
"The sky darkens, then goes all dark. The dogs howl, rabbits hunch down, the deer run in panic, run, stampede in fright. And in this awful, incomprehensible dusk, even the birds... the birds too are confused and go to roost. And then, complete silence. Everything that lives is still. Are the hills going to march off? Will heaven fall upon us? Will the earth open up under us? We don't know. We don't know for a total eclipse has come upon us."
The whale's got no part in it, yet the whale is the cause of it all.
The first twelve minutes of this film are bliss - setting up for the engaging tale to follow. A mesmerizing metaphorical rampage, in slow motion. I'll let the score to this cinematic beast haunt me for the remainder of the night/week/month.
quietly, poetically apocalyptic. i think bela tarr is my new favorite director.
Yet another pretentious arthouse film where I just seriously couldn't understand what the hell was going on (there's not really a plot to speak of, but I'm sure I'm missing some sort of political/philosophical statement here).
This is probably one of the most tedious, slowly paced movies I've ever seen. That one movie that's nothing but a slow zoom-in of the Empire State Building for 8 hours moves faster than this!
It's films like Werckmeister Harmonies that make me wish I were a little smarter, or at least a better writer, so that I could truly begin to decipher my own feelings for it. Having only seen one Tarr film, Satantango, prior to this, I knew I was in for a beautifully shot, hypnotic film. That's exactly what I got.
The ideas are much more interesting than the execution. It isn't able to really come together before the very last scene with the whale, the strongest in the film.
The film's main issue is rhythm, which it has within individual scenes, but lacks in the whole.
From Tarr's meticulous choreography, to the whale's metaphorical arc reflecting mankind within the film, to the focus on a horrifying wonder that comes with the advancement in technology - the beasts it creates - Werckmeister Harmonies is a full fledged masterpiece. It is about the devolution that comes with evolution. It's a philosophically pessimistic exploration of the misplace of feeling and the misguided senses surrounding that blur. It's something else entirely with a score foreshadowing our oncoming doom: haunting but beautiful in every way.
The opening scene is magical, the song that plays in that scene is really lovely: www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRl3VQQ0GUA
The sort of film that I'm not smart enough to understand upon just one viewing, and probably not all without reading the thoughts of more perceptive people.
High-rated movies with very few views. Suggestions are welcome.
This is what happens when your car breaks down on a Sunday morning and you have nothing else to do…