"Werckmeister Harmonies"

Well, the wife and I finally got around to watching a film by Hungarian director Bela Tarr. We watched Werckmeister Harmonies (2000) tonight at home and were hugely impressed. I love long takes; the film is 2 hours and 25 minutes long but consists of only 39 shots. The Japanese film Who’s Camus, Anyway? (2005), about a group of film students in Tokyo, starts with a long take involving a discussion of famous movies that begin with long takes. A clever idea. They should have mentioned Werckmeister Harmonies but didn’t. The opening shot of *Werckmeister * is a single unbroken 10- or 11-minute scene in the local pub of a Hungarian village, and the hero, Janos, is arranging the local drunks in the room in an enactment of the solar system in a bid to explain an upcoming solar eclipse. We were enthralled by each scene. I really, really love movies like this. So does the wife.

Tomorrow night, we’re watching Tarr’s Damnation. Slightly shorter at about 2 hours. I understand he has one film that’s about 7 hours long and that much of his work approaches that. Not hard to see why he’s not out in the public’s eye more.