Werckmeister Harmonies Image
Metascore
92

Universal acclaim - based on 8 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 62 Ratings

Your Score
0 out of 10
Rate this:
  • 10
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
  • 0
  • 0
  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: Based on László Krasznahorkai's novel "The Melancholy of Resistance," this is an uncanny fable about powerlessness and tyranny. Set in a small Hungarian village at a moment of great crisis, a mysterious circus comes to town with a giant whale and news of an appearance by a Prince known for his strange powers. Soon the locals' emotions are stirred to a fever pitch of anticipation. (Anthology Film Archives) Collapse
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 8
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 8
  3. Negative: 0 out of 8
  1. An indelible statement on loneliness and spiritual thirst.
  2. 100
    While Tarr's newest epic, Werckmeister Harmonies, isn't intended for the shopping-mall crowd, it is more viewer-friendly and will please adventurous moviegoers.
  3. This is as challenging as movies come, alluding to everything from philosopher Thomas Hobbes to the history of Western music.
  4. 90
    The pacing is slow, but the film is entrancing and earns a permanent place in the viewer's mind.
  5. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    90
    A stunning feature -- another hypnotic meditation on popular demagogy and mental manipulation.
  6. 80
    A work of bravura filmmaking.
  7. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    80
    The film could easily be reduced to a parable of post-Communist Eastern Europe, but the allegory digs deeper into the very order of things, exemplified by 17th-century musicologist Andreas Werckmeister's arbitrary imposition of a "tempered" tonal system over naturally occurring tunings.

See all 8 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 32
  2. Negative: 8 out of 32
  1. Feb 20, 2011
    8
    Skillfully structured - There are those filmmakers that have the ability to change our perception of film as a medium for telling stories through images and dialog, communicating with a universal audience and creating awareness. Directors like Campion, Loach, Bergman, Kubrick, Kieslowski and Tarkovsky are certainly some of those, and i had a similar experience after watching Bèla Tarr`s third feature, co-directed by Agnes Hranitzky, which tells the story of an utterly cold Hungarian town where the inhabitants await the arrival of a traveling circus which main attractions are a giant whale and a deformed speaking figure called The Prince. Most of the residents are suspicious about the upcoming event, but the local postman named Janus perceives it as a good sign.

    While viewing this film i instantly began thinking of other east European directors such as Alexandr Sokurov, Theo Angelopoulos and Andrei Zvyagintsev who's film are marked by their focus on visual composition, length, long takes and concise dialog. Bèla Tarr's dark and tender vision of life in a remote provincial town is filmed in black and white, contains 39 long takes during a runtime of 225 minutes, is told through long monologues and concentrated dialog, uses natural sounds and has an unforgettable instrumental theme song composed by the directors longtime companion Mihàly Vig. This theme song and the refined black and white photography which was created by four photographers, evokes the collective state of mind of the citizens in the town and elevates the powerful moods which becomes a large character within this skillfully structured film. "Werckmeister Harmonies" an adaptation of a novel called "The Melancholy Of Resistance" which was written by Làszlò Krazsnahorkai in 1989 and the movie title refers to Andreas Wercmeister (1645-1706), a composer from the Baroque era and a musical theorist. It is a chronologically narrated character study about a man who's faith is immensely challenged when he begins to realize what is actually happening to the human kind he so firmly believes in. The story written by Bèla Tarr and Làszlò Krazsnahorkai follows the main character during the course of one eventful day as he walks through the streets of his hometown looking for signs that will confirm his believes. The caring and childishly curious Janus is brought to life by German actor Lars Rudolph who appeared in Hal Hartley's "Flirt" (1995) and Tom Tykwer's "The Princess and the Warrior" (2000). With a mysterious face that expresses a string of emotions and a subtly underplayed performance, he creates a rare and intriguing character. I consider this slow-paced fictional drama as a small masterpiece that communicates it's message with conviction and tells a credible story that is not hard to follow, but not always easy to watch. Bèla Tarr and Agnes Hranitzky's directing is commendable, their realized vision is magnificent, the acting is overall convincing, the opening scene is a striking example of cinematic art and what eventually puts all the pieces together and pointedly contrasts the common feelings of sadness that imprisons the souls of this film, is Hungarian composer, poet and songwriter Mihàly Vig`s spiritual music.
    Expand
  2. Dec 7, 2012
    4
    This guy imagined a good movie, but he wasn't able to do it. He got lost in typical pretentious mystification of art-house European cinema. A simple e strong story about social disorder is wasted on the director's need to profess his affiliation to a Cannes-type cinema. Great photography and excellent camera operation wasted on scenes that result remarkably boring. Acting direction has many ridiculous and amateurish moments. Beautiful music is also wasted when it's not used on the proper moments. In short, a film that could have been good if the director was more concerned with the film he wanted to make then he was with the kind of cinema from which he intends to move away from. Expand
  3. Jun 11, 2012
    3
    This movie is aggressively pretentious and tedious. If you want to watch a contemplative film, watch Stalker by Tarkovsky instead. "I despise stories, as they mislead people into believing that something has happened." -Bela Tarr

    Rest assured, Mr. Tarr, no one will be mislead into believe anything has happened in Werckmeister Harmonies.
    Expand

See all 32 User Reviews

Related Articles

  1. Ranked: The Best Foreign Horror Films Since 2000

    Ranked: The Best Foreign Horror Films Since 2000 Image
    Published: October 27, 2010
    Yesterday, we looked at the worst horror films of the past decade; today, we begin our look at the best. Up first: the best foreign-language horror movies -- a list that includes cult hits like Sweden's "Let the Right One In" as well as more esoteric fare.
  2. Ten Years of Metacritic: The Best (and Worst) Movies of the Decade

    Ten Years of Metacritic: The Best (and Worst) Movies of the Decade Image
    Published: December 17, 2009
    Our best of the decade coverage continues with a look at the past ten years in cinema. While the decade's best-reviewed movie may not have been a commercial blockbuster (or even in English), our lists turn up plenty of recognizable names in addition to obscure gems you may have missed.