Tuesday, 19 June 2012


A desolate tale presented in a desolate style. Bela Tarr's final film is his least complex and most pure, a vision of such absolute emptiness that what is commonplace in most films - a word of dialogue, a meaningful glance, the arrival of others - becomes an interruption as much for us as for the film's miserable characters. Tarr has cleansed his film of all humour and all drama; we are forced to observe, as there is no scope for 'audience participation'. Yet to observe is far more natural in a film theatre than to participate and, thus, we are drawn into these repetitive scenarios. The simplicity of the images also lends them a most satisfying richness, to which Fred Kelemen's photography - making use of many perpendicular angles, reminiscent of Peter Greenaway - contributes considerably. Greenaway's style is also detectable in the rolling score, and in the sense that these mostly mute, expressionless people are no more than figures, as integral to the film as any inanimate object. But, unlike Greenaway (and indeed, unlike himself), Tarr provides us with nothing to indulge in; this is a narrow depiction of life on a wholly, unchangingly functional level, whose significance ultimately is null. This is, however, extremely effective, as the banality of these scenes only intensifies the unsettling terror of the last few moments. As an interpretation of the end of the world, it's even more chilling and complete than Werckmeister Harmonies. Appropriately, though, this time the bleakness never relents.