Engulfed in mist, submerged in soil and drenched by rain. Béla Tarr’s Kárhozat (Damnation) from 1984, written in collaboration with László Krasznahorkai, is a masterpiece of atmosphere and cinematographic storytelling.
Though not as avant-garde as his later films: Sátántangó (1994), Werckmeister harmóniák (2000) and A torinói ló (2011), Kárhozat indicates Tarr’s prominent style and mode of narration. Kárhozat is the inception from which everything emerges.
“I’m expected to go mad because of the irreversibility of life.”
Told in vignettes, Kárhozat folds time onto itself, ellipsis upon ellipsis, as time and place become irrelevant.
Tarr merges the specific and the universal, defying scales, making the microcosmic macrocosmic.
Sequences carry with them enormous emotional power, the camera flowing, slowly, as the world ceases to be, while another world springs from the until then unknown.
“I cling to nothing, but everything clings to me.”