Before starting this short review we need to preface a few things, this is the first film of Bela Tarr that I have seen. After hearing countless accounts that he has a similar style to Tarkosky I have been interested in checking out his work. This felt like a good place to start, the run time was reasonable compared with some of his other work; looking at you Satantango (7h 30m). Knowing very little other than this before entering the film. Also one quick point to add, everything publish on this blog has been done so with a minimum of two views. This film however I have only seen once but that is part of the reason I want to write about my interesting experience with this film. For this reason there will be less analysis that some of the other work on this page.
The film opens with a monologue that sets the scene before we get a hauntingly beautiful opening scene. If there are two words to describe this film it would defiantly be “hauntingly beautiful”. The use of long shorts, pacing, music or lack there of all add to this effect. The pacing was very slow although this is entirely intentional, I do generally prefer slow paced films as it gives the audience time to think and process what is happening. However during this film I did find moments where I was very bored but once again I feel this was intentional to create a sense of the mundanity of human life.
After watching the film I was not unhappy but did not feel that it had lived up to my expectations. After hearing that Tarr is similar to Tarksoky I expected more philosophical elements; but the only area I could really see this in was the monologue by the character Bernhard (Kormos). What he spoke about was interesting but did not even come close to what I had got out of some of Tarksoky’s work.
It was not until the days and the weeks after that the film really started to hit me. The images of the film where burned into my mind due to the fantastic long shots. I would think about the film a lot on the bus to work and I think there is a reason for this. The action I was take was just as mundane as the characters in the film. The films primary philosophy is not in its dialogue but the film itself as a whole.
Upon this realization my option of the film went up a lot. Although I did not enjoy my two hours with this film as much as many others. I found that it left a much longer lasting impression than the films I watched at the same time that I really enjoyed. This to me is great cinema, a film that leaves you thinking about it; rather than just escapists entertainment. I know this article has been much shorter than some of my others with a lack of analysis but the interesting relationship I had with this film was something I wanted to document. Hopefully you can look forward to more in-depth analysis next year and it is possible that we might even revisit this one when I have a better understanding of the film.