The Man From London

The Man From London

DVD Rating: **

Reviewed by: Anton Bitel

Read Chris's film review of The Man From London

"The shoot took place in our own languages, which was as chaotic as the Tower of Babel. There were Czechs, French, English, Hungarians. But we never had any communication problems, and we didn't need interpreters."

So says Béla Tarr about the mélange of ethnicities that converged upon his film The Man From London. Unfortunately a similar spirit of internationalism threatens to undermine the interview with Tarr on this DVD. As the director switches from unsubtitled (and near unintelligible) English to subtitled Hungarian and back again, with each of his assertions subjected to the kind of hyperactively disruptive editing that never appears in his own work, the 16-minute extra suffers from communication problems all of its own.

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A pity, really, as Tarr has things of interest to say – once, that is, he has got past the dull details of which came first out of script, casting, and location, and has finished alluding in over-elliptical fashion to the various problems, financial and otherwise, that made the shoot happen in dribs and drabs over several years. He reveals, for example, that he employed Tilda Swinton here (and Hanna Schygulla in Werckmeister Harmonies) not for their name recognition and the box-office draw that comes with that, but rather for their experience working with auteur directors like himself. "Our outlook, as people and as artists, is very similar."

He also explains his theory that cinema works in "the language of the definite", and declares his love of low camera angles, while proudly asserting his own auteur status ("I'm a very autocratical guy"). If only he had been allowed to direct this interview himself, it might have turned out so much clearer (and, no doubt, longer).

Reviewed on: 19 May 2009
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The Man From London packshot
After witnessing a murder, a railway switchman makes a discovery which will change his life forever.
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Product Code: ART416DVD

Region: 2

Ratio: 16:9

Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0

Extras: Interview with Béla Tarr

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