Werckmeister Harmonies

Werckmeister Harmonies, a Hungarian film made in 2000 in black and white and directed by Bela Tarr and Agnes Hranitzky. Its a kind of an allegory on the post World War II communist Hungary. Apparently, the movie is shot in 39 long takes. As a result of the long takes, there are unusually long shots of a subject such as two men walking down the road, a protest coming down the street, a man walking on the railway tracks. Don’t know what it signifies but after a point, it becomes too much. The movie is shot in natural light throughout. Not much of a story to go by, but the first scene is an enactment of a solar eclipse wherein men are placed as in the universe and solar eclipse explained and finally the hero says, there is light after much darkness. Georgy Eszter (Peter Fiz) is a pianist of repute and a fan of the German composer Andreas Werckmeister. But his piano is not tuned properly and with the result that he is not getting the right tunes of his favorite master. His wife Tunde Eszter (Hanna Schygulla) is cavorting with the government side and both of them are practically not seeing eye to eye with each other. She wants to come back but with a pretext that he procures the list of all those loitering in the town hall and fomenting trouble. Georgy is not bothered with that and does’nt want her to come back. Janos Valuska (Lars Rudolph) is their nephew looking after Georgy and another uncle. A circus comes to town, which is a metaphor for trouble. Strangely the circus has a dead whale and a character named Prince, who is ostensibly a disfigured person, but we don’t get a glimpse of him in the film except in shadows in one shot. Prince has lot of followers amongst the common folk apparently. In the end, arson and riots break out and protestors go about destroying hospital assets and beating up the patients. The cycle gets complete in the end with the army taking over completely and these two protagonists losing out.

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