In this gorgeous new 4K restoration, Hungarian slow-cinema master Béla Tarr (The Turin Horse, MIFF 2011) finds metaphysical horror in a nascent revolution.
In a sleepy Hungarian village, musicologist György has become morbidly convinced that the German baroque composer Andreas Werckmeister sent the universe askew with a harmonic system that disrupted the music of the celestial spheres. As György’s ambitious ex-wife Tünde asks her young nephew János to persuade his beloved uncle to lead a concerned citizens’ committee, a strange circus arrives: a taxidermy-preserved whale and its enigmatic keeper, The Prince. Crisis fills the air as a political eclipse looms, seemingly kindled by the whale’s dead gaze.
Tarr is acclaimed for his uncompromisingly slow, formally austere style, and Werckmeister Harmonies – which is co-directed by Ágnes Hranitzky – is a work of textures and moods. The film does not lull the senses but sharpens and thrills them; it contains only 39 black-and-white shots over 145 minutes, every single one of which glows in this restoration. Let it strike an unsettling chord within you.
“Transcendent cinema … A filmmaker whose pics work on the emotions in as unfathomable a way as the compositions of great symphonists.” – Variety