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Werckmeister Harmonies [DVD]

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Lars Rudolph, Janos Derzsi, Hanna Schygulla, Peter Fitz
  • Directors: Bela Tarr, Agnes Hranitzky
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: Hungarian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Artificial Eye
  • DVD Release Date: 6 April 2009
  • Run Time: 145 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001R65FJM
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 43,733 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Hungarian director Bela Tarr follows his mammoth seven-hour 'Satantango' with this critically acclaimed story about a small Eastern European town on the brink of disaster. When a showman brings a huge whale to the town, along with a sinister side attraction known as the Prince, Lajos (Lars Rudolph) is fascinated by the creature and sees it as proof of a great cosmic design. However, the whale also proves to be a magnet for unrest, and the mob that gathers outside soon edges towards violence.

About the Director

The population of a desolate provincial town on the Hungarian plain await the arrival of a circus that features the stuffed carcass of a whale and a mysterious Prince. Its appearance disturbs the order of the populace, unleashing a torrent of violence and beauty. The Hungarian auteur Bela Tarr at last gained international recognition as one of the most distinctive and visionary of contemporary filmmakers with this quite extraordinary adaptation of László Krazsnahorkai s novel The Melancholy of Resistance . Featuring an outstanding cast, including Fassbinder veteran Hanna Schygulla, and a hauntingly beautiful score composed by Mihály Víg, The Werckmeister Harmonies is a hypnotic, challenging and utterly compelling masterpiece. Special features: Béla Tarr interview

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
On a cold, windswept square in a small central Hungarian town a carnival arrives with a giant stuffed whale as the special attraction. The town longs to find out what it looks like and to perhaps catch a glimpse of the potentially dangerous "Prince" who runs the show. The arrival of the carnival is the catalyst for unsettling this quiet town and a revolution begins to be fostered by members of the town's political elite...

Bela Tarr is the king of the long take yet this film is so much more than just a slow moving, black and white European arthouse picture. Based on the book "The Melancholy of Resistance" by László Krasznahorkai, Werkmeister Harmonies is a powerful meditation on loneliness, evil, political power, control, and the potential insanity of crowds. It's effect is in many ways elemental...it is hard to be specific about what Tarr is trying to explore but you will come away confused and exhilarated.

This is film making of the highest intellectual standard. In addition to the incredible shot making and photography the score provided by Mihaly Vig adds emotional weight to the images on screen. This is without doubt one of the most significant pieces of cinema produced in the last 25 years.
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"Werckmeister Harmonies" is a must for all arthouse movie fans, and Bela Tarr, the director, deserves all the praise he can get for his new and dynamic way of presenting cinema. There are no expensive and large budget scenes in this film, yet it is astounding in portraying its apocalyptic subject matter by its simple and direct means and relatively sparse dialogue. The cinematography is magical and the acting is to the point. You don't have to be Hungarian to understand and identify with this post-communist tragedy, all you need to do is sit back and watch.
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Format: DVD
The opening is one of the most intriguing I've come across. We're in a working class tavern in a small Hungarian village. It's closing time, but one of the drunks wants Janos (Lars Rudolph), the young mail carrier, to explain the cosmos again, and the meaning of a great eclipse. Soon Janos has these rough, staggering men shuffling around the one he has made the sun, one the earth, another the moon. Others join in, eyes unfocused, all caught up in something out of their understanding. "...and now," Janos says, "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 where constancy, quietude and peace, infinite emptiness reign. And just imagine that in this infinite sonorous silence everywhere is an impenetrable darkness." The temperature outside is 17 degrees below zero. It's cold to the bone, but without snow. And Janos says, "The sky darkens and then all goes dark. The dogs howl, rabbits hunch down, the deer run in panic, run, stampede in fright. And in this awful, incomprehensible dusk, even the birds, the birds, too, are confused and go to roost. And then...complete silence. Everything that lives is still. Are the hills going to march off? Will heaven fall upon us? Will the earth open under us? We don't know. We don't know."

Bela Tarr's Werckmeister Harmonies seems to me to be a great combination of allegory about human beliefs, pessimism about human behavior and extraordinary movie making. The image of all these village drunks slowly shuffling and turning around one of their own, the sun, is pure cinema, original, striking and memorable.

Late that night, when Janos is delivering mail, he sees a huge truck slowly driving past a row of buildings leading to the town square.
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Format: DVD
Bela Tarr is known for his use of non professional actors, often real people who work in real life in other jobs. He’ll often use the same actors in different films. He always takes their personalities and creates the story around that, stressing being rather than playing. He shoots on low budgets using hand-held cameras in black and white, with a great contrast between light and shade. For him there is a connection between film and real life. His movies are situated between reality and fiction: on the one hand is improvisation, on the other hand everything is very composed and perfect. He likes to show real people, real emotions. He works with the same people in a kind of family.He uses real moments and Meta communications, strong locations and formal artistry.

The film’s subject is shot like cinema verite, yet we get the material reality conjoined with a charged symbolic presence, so things are both themselves, but also have an essence that transcends their existence. We get a story but also a place as the narrative and people’s faces. Tarr said film is a very concrete thing,it only records what is there, there are no allegories in his films. Also literary language (as in the novel) is different to film language and has to be translated into film language through dialogue,images, and situations. The description of the novel requires in film the assistance of music, the editing, the cinematography(hand-held cameras),the actors’ personalities, the crowd scenes, the location. Werckmeister Harmonies works like a visual poem.

Tarr is the king of slow-moving takes and this brings out the ontological nature of the film. A post office worker describes that anarchy has been loosed,killings,lootings, murder, mountains of waste refuse. The centre cannot hold.
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