A2P Cinema 100 Films of the Aughts
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WERCKMEISTER HARMONIES
2000 - Bela Tarr - Hungary / Germany / France / Italy
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Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr is a visionary master. To see Werckmeister Harmonies is to experience it. The film is meditative and original and beautiful. Tarr's style has seen a stylistic change since his first feature (1979's Family Nest). His early 1970s films were much rawer examinations of social issues and adult relationship conflict (drawing similarity to American filmmaker John Cassavetes). Beginning with 1985's Almanac of Fall, Tarr's films took on a whole new almost transcendent style of filmmaking as he took on a precise and conscious visual approach. With Werckmeister Harmonies Tarr sets the mood from the long opening shot. Following the visual landscapes of his previous films (Damnation and Satantango), Werckmeister Harmonies is photographed with a haunting and cold atmosphere as well as many long sweeping tracking shots. One of the key aspects of Tarr's films is a study of universal problems and the basis of it's evil. Tarr's films create this fascinating otherworldly sense through his breathtaking use of camera and composition. Tarr frequently and in fact repetitiously lingers with long shots that last minutes, and the scenes are flawlessly exact with each detail. Tarr's expression of the human condition can often be a very depressing experience that can very easily isolate the viewer. I believe this is also part of his intention to disconnect the viewer from the film and it's bleak world. Obviously this will divide audiences, but his atmospheric imagery is reminiscent of visual master Andrei Tarkovsky. Werckmeister Harmonies takes on a deeply spiritual essence and this is heighten by the use of Tarr's camera and the visual atmosphere of this film. Tarr has made some great films but I believe Werckmeister Harmonies to be his very best.
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