“There’s not the smallest orb which thou behold’st
But in his motion like an angel sings,
Still choiring to the young-eyed cherubins.
Such harmony is in immortal souls,
But whilst this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.”
–William Shakespeare, “The Merchant of Venice,” V., 1., 58-63
FEATURING: Lars Rudolph, Peter Fitz, Hanna Schygulla
PLOT: Soft-spoken János takes care of his uncle, an aging musician and music theorist, in a small Hungarian town. One day a modest circus, featuring only a stuffed whale and a mysterious freak known as “the Prince” as its attractions, comes to town. János is impressed by the majesty of the whale and sneaks in to see it one night, and overhears the Prince declaring “Terror is here!”
- Andreas Werckmeister was a 17th century musical theorist who developed the “well temperament” (as in Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier”), a tuning system that competed (and eventually lost out to) the more popular “equal temperament.”
- Werckmeister Harmonies is based on the 1989 Hungarian novel “Az ellenállás melankóliája” (“The Melancholy of Resistance”), by László Krasznahorkai, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Bela Tarr.
- Those who have counted say that this 145-minute film has only 39 shots (some more generous sources say 45 shots).
- Werckmeister Harmonies ranked #56 on the BBC’s 2016 critic’s poll of the greatest films of the 21st century.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: The Whale’s massive dead eye, juxtaposed with tiny humans.
THREE WEIRD THINGS: Drunks enact the Solar System; eye of the Whale; the Prince speaks
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Werckmeister Harmonies is a bleak and obliquely allegorical parable in which a Whale and a Prince bring a local apocalypse to a poor but peaceful Hungarian town. A political horror movie that creeps over you slowly, wrapping you in a fog of mysterious dread.
Fan-made trailer for Werckmeister Harmonies
COMMENTS: How many times have you been at a bar at closing Continue reading 345. WERCKMEISTER HARMONIES (2000)