A cat dies
A child commits suicide
It rains continuously
It ends with an ageing, possibly dying man as he boards up his window to sit in complete darkness on a desolate muddy wet failing farm collective.
Its a hard film to sell……
so, its 7 hours long, its in black and white, its Hungarian and very, very little happens, oh and did i mention that Bela Tarr [ the director] is particularly well known for extremely slow moving and enormously long takes.
But, there is something magical and hypnotic about the process of watching his films. The are both boring and mesmerizing at exactly the same moment. Images from his work stay with you, haunt you, creep into your own dreams.
They may change the way you look at cinema.
After 1984’s Őszi almanach (Almanac of Fall), Tarr (who had written his first four features alone) began collaborating with Hungarian novelist László Krasznahorkai for 1988’s Kárhozat (Damnation). A planned adaptation of Krasznahorkai’s epic novel Sátántangó took over seven years to realize; the 415-minute film finally appeared to international acclaim in 1994. After the epic he released a 35-minute film Journey on the Plain in 1995 and fell into silence until the 2000 film Werckmeister Harmóniák (Werckmeister Harmonies), occasionally shot in very intense circumstances.[such as?] The film itself was very warmly welcomed by critics and the Festival circuit in general. Many if not most of the shots in these later films are up to eleven minutes long. It may take months to do a single shot. The camera swoops, glides, and soars. It circles the characters, it moves from scene to scene. It may, as in Sátántangó, travel with a herd of cows around a village, or follow the nocturnal peregrinations of an obese agoraphobic drunk who is forced to leave his house because he’s run out of booze. Susan Sontag championed Tarr as one of the saviors of the modern cinema, saying she would gladly watch Sátántangó once a year.
After Werckmeister he began filming A Londoni férfi (The Man From London) an adaptation of a Georges Simenon novel. It was scheduled to be released at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival in May, but production had to be shut down because of the suicide of producer Humbert Balsan on February 10, 2005 and there were disputes with the other producers over a possible change in the film’s financing. It premiered at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival and was released worldwide in 2008. Tarr then began working on a film called A torinói ló (The Turin Horse) which he has said will be his last.
For many years, none of his work was available on DVD (except in Japan), but Werckmeister Harmonies and Damnation have been made available on a two-disc DVD in Europe, courtesy of Artificial Eye (who have also issued The Man From London) and both films are now available in North America on separate DVDs from Facets Video. Tarr’s early works; Family Nest, The Outsider, and The Prefab People; are also available on DVD in the USA, courtesy of Facets. Facets was supposed to release Sátántangó on DVD on November 28, 2006, but was delayed until July 22, 2008. Artificial Eye released the film on November 14, 2006. A comparison of the two DVD editions has been posted at DVD Beaver.