Werckmeister Harmonies

Director: Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky
Year Released: 2000
Rating: 2.0

End-of-the-world meditation by Hungarian Tarr, who belongs in the Theo Angelopoulous school of forgoing intellectual depth for mood: the image-as-content frame-of-mind. Some have remarked how the shots 'stay with you for a long time,' but the glib response to that is you're almost guaranteed to remember a sequence of, say, people storming a hospital or walking around a giant whale if the take runs close to 9 minutes long (particularly in the age of near-subliminal cutting). The visuals are impressive - black and white, high contrast, meticulous composition - and you could almost smell the stale misery, but I didn't take much away from it the way I would from a filmmaker of considerable talent like Tarkovsky, who (I feel) still held onto the dream of salvation. For Tarr, salvation is a naked old man in a bathtub spared the violence of a mob or the rotting corpse of a whale that acts as "entertainment."