Bela Tarr's Werckmeister Harmóniák

This is one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen. Slow, rhythmic, quiet; it creates space. I have nothing but praise. Tarr's shots are long and curving, weaving in and around, quietly observing. It must be seen on one of those days where everything washes over you. One of those cloudy days when you walk out onto your street and feel as though you are seeing it for the first time, where people appear as strange, wonderful specimens, and their habits as vines and skins of tradition and experience, close, inseparable, growing. On that day, when everyone and everything interests your for its quiet, mysterious beauty, you must watch this film.

Composed of 39 shots, the film is based on the novel, The Melancholy of Resistance (1989) by Laszlo Krasznahorkai, whose writing has also been the basis for Tarr's Damnation and Satantango. A provincial town has been isolated by ice and beset by rumours, omens of apocalypse. A circus has come to the town and is parked in the main square, where people gather by small fires as the tensions grow. Accompanied by the largest whale in the world, hidden away in a wooden container, and "the prince", a mysterious figure whose shrouded presence incites violence and mistrust. The sparse and slow realism is underscored by an otherworldliness, a cosmic and apocalyptic presence. Biblical references, questions of human chaos and order, and the failed search for perfection of tone and scale pervade the film. János Valuska, a quiet, almost-Dostoevskyian-holy-fool, is slowly revealed as the more true bearer of humanity, whose hope and amazement are of equal measure throughout the chaos.

Opening sequence

And now we’ll have an explanation that simple folks like us can understand about immortality. All I ask is that you step with me into the boundlessness...