A word about Tarr & Hranitzky’s ‘Werckmeister Harmonies’ [5/10]

Werckmeister Harmonies bears all the hallmarks of a serious, adult art film: arcane title, unusually long running-time, unusually long takes, black and white, subtitles, obscure plotting, portentous dialogue, portentous pauses, and intense, apocalyptic, politically-charged subject matter. It's probably dangerous to attempt specific interpretations of a film so wilfully oblique as this, but the basic thrust seems to be that the Hungarian peasantry, cast adrift after the end of Soviet-bloc communism, are easy prey for reactionary, proto-Fascistic forces. Whatever the film's events are supposed to represent, it's clear that the world we see is poised on the brink of some terrible cataclysm. But when dealing with such a work, any assessment of  'meaning' is very much in the eye and mind of the beholder – as is, indeed, are the merits of the film and its maker(s). And these asssessments can't be easily summarised within the confines of such a short review. The reader is, therefore, politely invited to embark on this unusually long analysis.

Neil Young
14th September, 2003 (seen 12th September : NMPFT, Bradford)

Werckmeister Harmoniak : Hungary (Hun/Ger/Fr) 2000 : TARR Bela & HRANITZKY Agnes : 143 mins