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Tarr, Béla


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#1 Duke Togo

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 10:55 PM

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Béla Tarr
A bit of an enigma only really known in circles of film enthusiasts, Tarr is one of those rare artists that follows his own radical views of what film should be to sometimes alienating heights. The length of his shots really challenge the viewer to feel this alternate world he is presenting us, and not too fond of conventional plots he seems more interested in the mere existence of his characters. As each project eventually finds funding, we will hopefully see many more outings from this already legendary living director.

Recommended Films:
(2) Damnation (1987)
(3) Sátántangó (1994)
(5) Werckmeister Harmonies (2000)

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#2 marcusbulbous76

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 08:14 AM

Drifted from Rate The Last Movie You Watched -Duke

Sadly, I feel much the same about Gerry. I love Gus van Sant but it was as though he tried to ape Bela Tarr but had no sense ahead of time how to do that. He makes the same mistake with Last Days. The film was artless and directionless. That may be the point, but it doesn't add up to a film. He incorporates his new-found duration of time bent better in Elephant and Paranoid Park.

Yeah I noticed he gave Bčla Tarr a special thanks in the credits. I haven't seen any of Tarr's pictures but from what I"ve heard they must be better than Gerry was. I'm curious about Sŕtŕntangň, but I'm thinking if I'm just getting to know who he is, I shouldn't go for the 7 hour one first, especially considering how much I disliked Gerry a film which was supposedly an homage to him. Maybe Werckmeister Harmonies?

Yeah, I'd start with Werckmeister Harmonies. It's slow and deliberate like Gerry, only epic and visually ravishing and wonderful. You'll have a good idea of what to expect of Satantango at that point.

#3 Pair

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 08:14 AM

I haven't seen any of Tarr's pictures[...]

Dude! :lol:

Oh my man, please get into Tarr.

Here's the opening (so nothing to spoil you) to Werckmeister. First, absorb it, then observe the length of the shot.


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#4 helloemigoodbye

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 08:51 AM

Dude! :lol:

Oh my man, please get into Tarr.

Here's the opening (so nothing to spoil you) to Werckmeister. First, absorb it, then observe the length of the shot.


9 1/2 minutes! impressive!

Well, already I can see that it looks like an actual real movie, with some legitimate direction going on as opposed to Gerry. I think I'll take your advice and check this out, and figure out where along the way it was that Gus van Sant missed the point. Thanks!
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#5 Duke Togo

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 03:19 PM

Also check out the opening from Sátántangó:


Just about all the shots in these two films are that length, not just the openings, and they are all amazing. :lol:

#6 sexy rancheros

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 08:01 PM

Just about all the shots in these two films are that length, not just the openings, and they are all amazing. :D

Hey, let's not go overboard there.
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#7 Duke Togo

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 11:12 PM

I won't take back what I said, so there. I don't think they're all as good as that opening, but it's clear they each had an above-average amount of consideration which I think paid off. They are great for the photography, the camera movement, the character choreography, and the way they connect with the big picture of the rest of the film. I also cannot help but be impressed at just how many shots in Sátántangó were being filmed at the same time. Whatever, you cannot argue with a boner. :D

#8 Major81

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 11:39 PM

Whatever, you cannot argue with a boner. :D


I take it you're not married.

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#9 Duke Togo

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 12:03 AM

Perhaps, but the owner of the boner is usually on the bus. If Sexy wants to argue with mine there is little I can do about it.

#10 sexy rancheros

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 12:22 AM

Well, his shots are mainly impressive on a technical level, but I just have a hard time justifying the duration of some, if not most of them. What is the purpose of holding that close-up shot of the main character and his uncle for three minutes when they were walking against the wind to get the petition signed? I feel Bergman's criticism against Antonioni and how it often seemed that he was not thinking of a film as a rhythmic succession of images applies here.
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#11 Duke Togo

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 12:47 AM

Well, I think the ability to 'feel time' is a very important aspect to his shots. To say I felt I knew his characters at the end is just nuts, but it happened because their presence became known through time. It just throws Tarr another bone that he was so effective at something so radical, that he was able to fill that time with something so consistent. It isn't about nailing a challenging shot, one after the other for seven hours, that isn't what impresses me. This technique makes you almost forget you are watching a film, it really sells the illusion better than just about any other film I've seen, and that I believe is what Tarr meant when he said "all that remains is time". Sure I'm relieved that not everyone employs this technique, that would be absurd, but I will appreciate his experimenting while it lasts.

#12 sexy rancheros

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 01:36 AM

I haven't seen all of Satantango, but I've been toying with the idea that all the long tracking shots from behind serve a purpose thematically since it gives the viewer a sensation of being on a treadmill and that perfectly reflects the characters' sense of mobility.

I think my main gripe is with Werckmeister Harmonies. The opening shot is absolutely awe-inspiring in terms of how it toys with time and space, but I don't think there are any shots afterward that even comes close to that level of elegance in terms of mise-en-scene. Maybe, when the main character goes to the square to see the whale for the first time. There's a certain ungainliness to most of the shots in the film, even including that famous hospital tracking shot.

I'm not so sure about "feeling time." If it works for you, then that's great. I think my problem is that I feel time too much and that I'm always conscious of all the camera movement and whatnot during Werckmeister. I mean it's kind of hard to give yourself over to the film when the camera is twirling around his uncle for no apparent reason. Don't you think?

I'm actually pretty fond of Damnation and I don't know why more people don't mention that when they talk about Tarr. I guess maybe because it doesn't support the amount of allegorical heft that Satantango and Werckmeister do with its narrative, but I feel like that film is more sound in its construction than Werckmeister, at least, except for maybe that long, lingering shot on the dirty beer mugs in the bar. I should probably do a double feature of Damnation and Werckmeister one of these days just to make sure, though.
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#13 Pair

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 10:58 AM

I'm personally a big fat fan of long shots. Especially long, static shots. I also love a story that patiently takes its time, and lengthy as hell running times.

I see too many films that jump around all over the damn place. I can't help being distracted by a nagging thought that very likely there's no actual content there TO savor. It's uninteresting to me visually, I imagine it isn't that challenging for any of the artists involved and it's the filmic equivalent of shorthand. It's why I cannot for the life of me muster up enthusiasm for action or romantic comedies.

I also don't like when story development operates in a comparable chain. "Hi, my name is A, I'm trying to B, but I can't because of C, because it reminds of my childhood when D. Also, I'm in love with a big fat F. For the next hour and a half I'll convince you to like me enough to really really care about my motivation."

No thanks. I'd rather there be little to no motivation than a motivation developed in short circuits. Unfortunately, the most popular movies end up being ones that are all motivation and no depth nor breadth.

I don't end up caring one tittle about that character. I may even know every little detail, but I get to know them way too quickly, and I'm simply not convinced. Even if the story itself isn't realistic I don't believe what I'm seeing is real. In the "keep it real" sense. That's the best word I can think of at the moment. 'Genuine?' Meh.

I'd rather take 3 hours getting to know just one aspect of one person in one situation because of one reason, let the rest remain a mystery and get to know those singular details VERY well, even at the cost of getting to know every in and out of the character.

Plus, jumpy shots require nothing from a viewer. I'd much rather be required to engage the film (or any art for that matter). I don't like sitting down, turning off my mind and being pandered to. But that's me.

Also, for the record, Damnation was super and I highly recommend it is well as the rest of Tarr's work. The only reason I didn't bring it up is because helloemigoodbye was expressing leaning towards Werckmeister first.
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#14 tapdancindan

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 12:10 PM

Drifted from a deleted thread. -Duke

I think so. I think he's a schmuck. Now, granted, I've only seen three of his movies (The Prefab People, Damnation, Werckmeister Harmonies), but I just don't see anything at all (that is, on balance) worth anything. Some of his shots are cool (the opening shot of Damnation, the long pull-away near the beginning of Werckmeister Harmonies), but the combination of what seems to me an utter lack of creativity and a heapin' helpin' of pretentious douchebaggery really irks me. I apologize if there's already a thread on this; I looked and failed to find one. Anyways, what do you guys think about this...schmuck?

You're obviously a very educated person.

Look, if you can please, in detail, explain to me and everyone else your true reasoning for this inane post and your reasoning for believing the man is a schmuck, and I mean really back up your opinions on why you think his films are "pretentious douchebaggery", and convince me that you have a valid viewpoint: I'll leave you alone and let you have your opinions. Otherwise, I'm going to assume you're just not very bright. I ask this of you because while I am a fan of Bela Tarr (although not the only reason, it might be a little bit why I'm actually taking the time to reply), I expect someone who makes such claims to back up their opinions and statements or else you're not going to get your point across to anyone and people are going to assume you're stupid (I'm not calling you stupid). I don't blame you (nor does it bother me) if you don't like the guy, I just ask that you back up your statements before making such asinine posts and then expecting everyone else to agree with you. Besides, this is a forum to discuss film, not bash it.
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#15 Lohengrin

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 12:17 PM

We discussed this a while back.

http://www.criterion...e...ost&p=11550

I agree that Werckmeister Harmonies is a bit overrated to some extent but I still love it. Please see Sátántangó before writing off Tarr though. You also reminded me that I need to see some of his earlier stuff.

Kiss my ass


#16 marcusbulbous76

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 12:41 PM

You're obviously a very educated person.

Look, if you can please, in detail, explain to me and everyone else your true reasoning for this inane post and your reasoning for believing the man is a schmuck, and I mean really back up your opinions on why you think his films are "pretentious douchebaggery", and convince me that you have a valid viewpoint: I'll leave you alone and let you have your opinions. Otherwise, I'm going to assume you're just not very bright. I ask this of you because while I am a fan of Bela Tarr (although not the only reason, it might be a little bit why I'm actually taking the time to reply), I expect someone who makes such claims to back up their opinions and statements or else you're not going to get your point across to anyone and people are going to assume you're stupid (I'm not calling you stupid). I don't blame you (nor does it bother me) if you don't like the guy, I just ask that you back up your statements before making such asinine posts and then expecting everyone else to agree with you. Besides, this is a forum to discuss film, not bash it.


Godard Fan rather trips and falls on his face right out of the gate when referring to Bela Tarr as a 'schmuck', doesn't he? Over and above the fact that he provides zero analysis of any of his films, his style or thematic concerns.

I think it would be best to remove the subtitle of this thread and move it all to the director database for further discussion and for posterity.

#17 bobham80

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 12:49 PM

I have not seen any of Tarr's film so I cant comment on him being a schmuck, however I'd rather use thread to ask what film I should start with. Is Sátántangó or Werckmeister Harmonies good starting points or should I start with something differnet all together?

#18 Pair

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 01:04 PM

I think it would be best to remove the subtitle of this thread and move it all to the director database for further discussion and for posterity.

Seconded.

Bob, those two are where most people start, sometimes along with Damnation. There's always something to be said for getting to know a director's work chronologically, but if you just want a general idea you're on the right track, says I.
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#19 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 01:17 PM

Seconded.

Bob, those two are where most people start, sometimes along with Damnation. There's always something to be said for getting to know a director's work chornologically, but if you just want a general idea you're on the right track, says I.


I removed the Topic Description (subtitle). I'm not sure about moving this though unless someone creates a post that covers Bela Tarr's films as well as follows our format for directors.

I've only seen one film (Werckmeister Harmonies) from Tarr so I was waiting for Duke or others to get into a more substantial argument then an ad hominem attack. There is always legitimate discussion on the problems of any director and any work, but the response should be a little more literate than "heapin' helpin' of pretentious douchebaggery", you must explain why its a heapin and helpin.
For example, I think Sexy has some interesting arguments in the posting Lohengrin gave.
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#20 tapdancindan

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 01:33 PM

I agree that Werckmeister Harmonies is a bit overrated to some extent but I still love it.


I don't find it overrated one bit but I can see how one would think that. Werckmeister Harmonies just had such a profound effect on me and the way I see film. It gives me the same feeling I get whenever I watch a Tarkovsky film: I just feel so inspired and enlightened. I really cannot describe the way Tarr and Tarkovsky make me feel; they've both touched me on such a deeply personal level. Also, I cannot stress enough how great of an experience Satantango is. I've managed to watch it 3 times.


Bob, those two are where most people start, sometimes along with Damnation. There's always something to be said for getting to know a director's work chronologically, but if you just want a general idea you're on the right track, says I.


You cannot go wrong with purchasing Artificial Eyes' double disc set of Damnation and Werckmeister Harmonies (they've also released a 3-disc set with both of those films along with The Man From London). I started with Damnation and absolutely loved it but I feel Werckmeister Harmonies is the better film (personal opinion).

I know not everyone may take my posts to heart as I have a habit of giving something the highest of praise and not explaining, in-depth, why I feel such a way. I just get overwhelmed and I'm not the best at processing my own thoughts so it takes multiple viewings of a film for me to be able to express what it is about a film that I love so much. I also just like to be sure of what I'm saying!

I accidentally posted this in the old thread so if someone could please delete it I would appreciate it!
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