After witnessing a crime during his night shift as railway switchman near the docks, a man finds a briefcase full of money. While he and his family step up their living standards, others start looking for the disappeared case.
A large, claustrophobic apartment is the setting for this intense chamber drama. In this dense setting, the inhabitants of the apartment reveal their darkest secrets, fears, obsessions and hostilities.
Miklós Székely B.
Plotting on a payment they are about to receive, residents of a collapsing collective farm see their plans turn into desolation when they discover that Irimiás, a former co-worker who they thought was dead, is coming back to the village.
Revisits of locations on the Great Hungarian Plain - the puszta - that were used in Tarr's Sátántangó and Werckmeister harmóniák. Recitations of short lyric poems by Hungary's national poet Sándor Petofi. The film is shot in color.
One night Maloin, a switchman at a seaside railway station situated by a ferry harbor, witnesses a terrible event. He is just watching the arrival of the last ferry at night from his control room on top of a high iron traverse from where he can see the whole bay. Suddenly he notices that the first of the disembarking passengers, a tall thin figure (a certain Brown as it will turn out later) leaves the harbor, but not on the usual route: after getting through customs, he goes around the dock and then withdraws into a dark corner, waiting. Opposite him, in front of the ship, another man soon appears and throws a suitcase towards the man on the shore. He goes and picks it up, then waits in an dark corner for the other man to join him. When he arrives, however, they begin to quarrel and finally, in the course of the vehement fight, due to a hit that turns out to be fatal, the shorter one falls in the water and sinks, clutching the suitcase in his hand. Maloin is watching the scene, ...Written by
Bela Tarr - I could clearly imagine the port, but since Hungary's have no port at any sea, I had to go out and search of a suitable location and settled on the old port of Bastia in Corsica. See more »
When Maloin and the bartender set up the chessboard and pieces for their daily game, they place the board with a black square in the lower right corner. (The baseball equivalent would be to have the catcher and batter set up at first base instead of home plate!) See more »
Admittedly it is daunting to start watching my very first Béla Tarr's works (with his wife and longtime editor Ágnes Hranitzky credited as the co-director), who has already retreated to a permanent retirement in filmmaking after THE TURIN HORSE (2011), as his oeuvre is mostly notorious for stirring audience's usual viewing habits with long takes exceedingly overstay their length of tolerance, a mixed anticipation and perturbation has overtaken me when I selected his lesser praised 2007 feature as the very first introduction piece, rarely I was in such a state before even embarking on the ritual of watching a film.
I would be dishonest if I say that the opening 13-minutes long take doesn't put me into a split second of slumber severe times, but how can anyone not to be flabbergasted by its solemn chiaroscuro grandeur, rigorously composed to illustrate a key event without spoon- feeding what is happening to audience, it is a paradigm-shifting innovation deserves admiration and endorsement, and more impressive in Tarr's long takes are not counter- narrative, in fact, he meticulously orchestrates the narrative within the long-takes, invites audience to be fully aware of our own self-consciousness towards the happenings on the screen during the overlong shots, particularly when framing at the back of characters' heads or the ones linger on characters' facial expressions as if they are tableaux vivants after the dramatic occurrences.
Once I passed the early stage of maladjustment, the film tends to be rather galvanising (an accomplishment should also be ascribed to composer Mihály Vig's resounding score with accordion or pipe organ), adapted from Belgian writer Georges Simenon's 1934 French novel 1934 L'HOMME DE LONDRES, Tarr transmutes the thrilling plot to an existential quest of our protagonist Maloin (Krobot), who has incidentally discovered a windfall after witnessing a murder during his night shift as a switchman in a French-speaking port town where a harbour and the wagon station are conveniently located with each other. The subsequent storyline involves the investigation of a senior detective Thompson (Lénárt) from London and domestic wrangles with his overwrought wife Camélia (Swinton) when he splurges their money wantonly, plus the British murderer Brown (Derzsi) is very eager to get the money back.
Tarr avoids any choppy development devices to pander for audience's attention span, he cooks up an equivocal scenario in the end, we never know the critical event happened inside the hut (Brown's hideout) as Tarr's camera fixates itself firmly outside the hut with its door closed, and regarding to Maloin's following behaviour, after knowing his character for almost 2-hours, each of us can give various motivations contingent on our viewings of the incident Tarr ingeniously chooses not to show us.
The film is infamous also for the suicide of its producer Humbert Balson in 2005, just before the shooting due to the apparent financial burdens of Tarr's hefty Corsican setting, so the reality check is even grimmer than the formidable fiction. What can I say? My gut feeling tells me I'm officially on board with Tarr's filmic methodology and all the trappings, his sui generis aesthetic language soundingly enshrines his filmography into the lofty tier of contemporary auteurism and maybe one day he will curtain his retirement and surprise us if inspiration strikes!
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