, 15 Jun 2007
A whale has arrived to be displayed in the town. An idealistic young man takes on endless chores for his relatives, hearing rumours of civic anarchy. People gather eerily in the market square. Suddenly, the town erupts into chaos...
The viewer needs to accept a couple of basic premises to 'understand' this film on its own terms:
1. Bela Tarr is a genuinely experimental filmmaker, reformulating cinematic grammar. Scenes of people walking are not mere connectives but events in their own right - arduous journeys, poetic gatherings.
2. Although his style at times resembles Tarkovsky, Cassavettes, and Herzog, Tarr is ultimately more of a surrealist. As a whole, this film (like Satantango) does not have a 'meaning' or articulate a 'world-view'.
If you can go along with that, however, this film can take you to extraordinary imaginative places. Sublimely lit, convincingly acted, and meticulously detailed - but above all it is the grace and beauty of the choreography (particularly in the camera-movements) that allows it to build to a strangely moving climax.
Magnificent and utterly unique.
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