Werckmeister Harmonies

Featured image for “Werckmeister Harmonies”
Shown: January 5, 2012 at 6pm

Director : Béla Tarr

Country : Hungary

Release Date : 2002

Duration : 145 mins

Language : Hungarian

Subtitles : Yes

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 …

“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)