The Béla Tarr Collection

The Béla Tarr Collection


Reviewed by: Anton Bitel

At a time when auteur theory is out of vogue and the notion of the truly independent director has largely fallen to the wayside, Hungary's Béla Tarr remains an individualist operating outside of any studio system, with a singular and consistent vision. Regularly collaborating with the novelist and screenwriter László Krasznahorkai, Tarr shoots in austere black and white, with immaculately composed tracking shots that unfold at their own deliberate pace to reveal the meandering paths travelled by a fragile humanity.

Tarr is one of cinema's last formalists, and all his films are unmistakably his own – bleak to the final reel, yet offering glimpses of light and warmth beyond the darkness. He is also, like all the most interesting filmmakers, a polarising agent, dividing his viewers between rapturous enthralment and dismissive boredom – but even the most fervent naysayers are unlikely to deny Tarr's extraordinary degree of craft.

Copy picture

With the DVD release of Tarr's latest, The Man From London (2007), which is a lugubrious film noir that slows its Simenon source to a snail's pace, Artificial Eye have decided also to re-release two of his features from their back catalogue. Damnation (1987) is another bare-bones noir in which the director first married his trademark long takes to an apocalyptic world just this side of the magical realist border. Best of all, Werckmeister Harmonies (2007) is a microcosmic/microchaotic masterpiece of monsters and men.

All three films are available as separate DVDs, or indeed in this three-disc collection that shows off the filmmaker's great eye for the aesthetics of creeping despair, while also showing up his habit of repeating himself – at considerable length.

Reviewed on: 26 May 2009
Share this with others on...
The Béla Tarr Collection packshot
Trio of works by the Hungarian auteur.
Amazon link

Director: Béla Tarr

Writer: László Krasznahorkai, Béla Tarr

Starring: See individual reviews

Year: 2009

Runtime: 392 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Hungary


Search database: