Monday, 18 January 2010
Werckmeister Harmonies (Werckmeister Harmóniák) 
Werckmeister Harmonies, made by master filmmaker Bela Tarr, isn’t really a movie to everyone’s taste, what with its lumbering pace, non-narrative structure and complex philosophical overtones. Nevertheless, I feel everyone must give it a try, even if it’s just for the experience. As bleak and disturbing a movie as the frozen Hungarian town in which it is set, the movie follows our protagonist Jancos (perhaps a stand-in for the auteur himself), a soft spoken and gullible young man, who works at a post-office and also runs errands for an elderly researcher on music. He marvels at the cosmic harmony in our universe (the opening ‘bar’ sequence is something to be watched to savour) and stares with wide-eyed wonder at the strange bounties ushered by ‘God’ on earth. Meanwhile, the ominous arrival of a traveling circus show has led to the growing murmur, madness and chilling mayhem in the otherwise peaceful-looking town. Set to a haunting, though sparsely used, score, the movie managed to mesmerize and spellbind me with its austere yet devastatingly beautiful black-and-white photography. The most awesome aspect about this epic lies in its brilliant use of gargantuan long-takes (including ones lasting over ten minutes!) that, on one hand, display audacity of the rarest kind, while on the other, intoxicate the viewers by teleporting them right to the desolate, near-surreal landscapes.
Director: Bela Tarr
Genre: Avant-Garde/Experimental/Psychological Drama