Werckmeister Harmonies
Directed by Béla Tarr, Hungary 2002
145 mins. Hungarian dialogue with English sub-titles
An allegory of post-World War II Eastern European political systems, the film is told as a black-and-white cinematic poem with 39 long, single-camera takes. It examines the brutalisation of a society, its political systems and ethics through the metaphor of a decaying circus whale - its star performer.   It is set in a desolate, isolated small town in Hungary during Soviet times.  The title refers to the baroque musical theorist Andreas Werckmeister.  In the film a character gives a monologue propounding a theory that Werckmeister's harmonic principles are responsible for aesthetic and philosophical problems in all music, which need to be undone by a new theory of tuning and harmony.  Baffling ...
What the Critics say:
"Tarr wants to stir the imagination and awaken the conscience of his audience rather than divert us with easy entertainment."  (David Sterritt - Christian Science Monitor)