Damnation

Damnation ★★★★★

Damnation is a film dealing in obviousness in its emotion, with everything else being shrouded in shadows. A sullen song number relays the mood of the film, a baby cries over an argument, moody, dark visuals, yet these emotions take precedence over story details, with more of the story being implied than shown. In a way, that makes this film a more bloated, and worse film than Tarr's magnum opus, Satantango, but it also gives the film its own identity, turning a flaw into an asset.

The emotions may be fully shown, but so is the atmosphere, with the characters seemingly knowing how depressive and emotionally destructive their town is, and means of escape (roads, cars, bikes, etc.) having particular emphasis, as well as restraints, such as walls and windows. It looms over the haunted faces of the characters, making for a much more personal film. Some feelings of optimism creep in near the end, but those are more served as a dramatic irony, so despite their intimacy, they're nevertheless melancholic scenes.

And by God, those camera pans. The film utilizes a lot of interior environments, and pans in and out of them often, making for some stellar visuals, and further enhances its own atmosphere. It features some of Tarr's best visual compositions ever, and is probably the better looking film in comparison to the distant, apocalyptic Satantango.

It may not be the supposed pinnacle of filmmaking like Satantango was, and still is, but it has much of the same charm as that film, as well as a much needed identity to tell itself apart in a really interesting and emotional way. Damnation exists more as a late night film on an obscure TV channel, confusing kids pulling all-nighters and pleasing the few who sought it out to begin with. It's a melancholic film in its own right, and its unforgettable, even in the shadow of a bigger, better work.

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