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aka WERCKMEISTER HARMÓNIaK
UK: Artificial Eye
Cast: Lars Rudolph, Peter Fitz, Hanna Schygulla, Janos Derzsi, Djoko Rosic, Tamas Wichmann, Ferenc Kallai, Mihaly Kormos, Putyi Horvath, Enikö Börcsök, eva Almassy Albert, Iren Szajki, Alfred Jarai, György Barkó, Lajos Dobak, Andras Fekete, Gyuri Dósa Kiss, Józsi Mihalyfi ,Peter Dobai, Geza Balkay, Kati Lazar, Peter Tóth, Laszló Fe-Lugossy, Gyula Pauer, Barna Mihók, Viktor Lois, Bela Mariass, Matyas Drafi, József Ropog, Sandor Bese, Erika Horineczky, Bela Nagy, agnes Kamondy, Peter Magyar, Dóra Kovats, Gabor Werner, Tamas Bolba, Peter Haumann, Marianna Moór, Attila Kaszas
Directors: Bela Tarr, agnes Hranitzky
Countries: Hungary / France / Italy / Germany / Switzerland
Languages: Hungarian / German (English Subtitles)
UK: 145 mins
UK Certificate: 12A contains one use of strong language
UK Release Date: 18 April 2003
Widely acclaimed as one of the most innovative and accomplished auteurs currently working, Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr's work was recently celebrated with full retrospectives at both the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the National Film Theatre, London. Tarr's career can be roughly divided into two parts; the content driven, Cassavetes inspired, socialist realism of his early films including FAMILY NEST and THE OUTSIDER, and then the more stylistically adventurous, metaphysical explorations of human conditions and states of mind in DAMNATION, SATANTANGO and WERCKMEISTER HARMONIES.
Described by J Hoberman as the heir to Tarkovsky and Jansco", Tarr's vision in these later films is uniquely cinematic, haunting, poetic and quite unlike anything else. These films generate a dreamlike tension between their sheer visual power - the brilliant monochrome photography, long takes and intricate camera movements - and their implacable elusiveness - minimal dialogue as the characters struggle to find their way, encountering irrational, seemingly demonic forces. Six years since SATANTANGO and four years in the making, WERCKMEISTER HARMONIES, based on the Hungarian novelist (and creative collaborator) Laszló Krasznahorkai's 'Melancholy of Resistance', signals a stunning feature return for the master-stylist Tarr.
WERCKMEISTER HARMONIES inhabits virtually the same overcast, rural world of DAMNATION and SATANTANGO. A mysterious 'circus' comes to the impoverished, unnamed Eastern European town. The villagers flock from all over, drawn by a promised appearance of 'The Prince'. At the moment however all that's on show is a life-sized stuffed whale,. As the locals talk about revolution and leadership, tension grows among those who have braved the cold to watch the circus, sparking unrest amongst the discontented male villagers. The unfolding events are witnessed by Janos Valuska (Lars Rudolph), who is unable to stem the tide of revolt.
Running parallel is the story of Janos' uncle, Guorgy Eszter (Peter Fitz), a musicologist devoted to overthrowing the musical system of Andreas Werckmeister, the seventeenth-century theorist who believed that heavenly constellations were created by God to influence men. WERCKMEISTER HARMONIES is Bela Tarr's lyrical meditation on mankind's place in the cosmos, exploring the precarious boundaries between civilisation and barbarism, harmony and discord.