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Werckmeister Harmonies

'Werckmeister Harmonies'

Dir.: Bella Tarr.

Long scenes, long takes, little dialogue and bizarre in parts but extraordinarily beautiful. The opening scene alone was just mezmerizing, as the character Janos tries to explain an eclipse of the sun to a bunch of drunkards in a bar. There are Tarkovsky like values to this style of film-making and parts of it feel other worldly and poetic. It's poetic in its' visuals and dialogue and strikingly shot with great use of camerawork and light.

Tarr refuses to be drawn on what it all means but I'm torn somewhere between a sense of European history and remorse of what went on during the great wars, and a cautionary tale of sorts as to how capitalism / modern society can ruin a country's people. There's also a theme of man being responsible for his own actions, and the phrase "He who is afraid, knows nothing" is uttered poignantly as if to remark on it's importance.

The music in this film is also pretty incredibly and used so well. The lead piece by Mihaly Vig is lovely, and you have to assume the slightly out of tune piano is purposefully recorded that way, given the subtext in the film.

Does Janos represent the state of Hungary after these events? In need of being nursed back to health. The title of the movie suggests that the sequence mentioning Werckmeister's music is key - so we might then take that as a reference / analogy to the elderly composer's desire to create a less rigid way of life. As is the case with many great films, it is up to the viewer's interpretation.

My first ever Tarr movie. And it's probably in my top 100 movies of all time. I just wish it was available on Blu Ray. The DVD I had was fine but didn't do the beautifully shot images justice.