Béla Tarr: Mysterious Harmonies


There's a scene in Béla Tarr's Werkmeister Harmonies in which an enormous shipping crate sits ominously in the city square. The camera follows a man as he circles it, capturing the blank stares of other locals until finally—and very slowly—the door to the container opens and a man emerges, sets up a ticket counter, and waits for the first customer. In a perfectly surreal world, the Walker's retrospective of this Hungarian master would begin with the director himself stepping forward from a mysterious shipping container. Alas, we'll have to settle for the Walker's stage, which Tarr will grace for a Regis dialogue with critic Howard Feinstein to kick off the center's career-spanning retrospective. Debuting with the equally caustic and claustrophobic portrait of socialist discontent, 1979's Family Nest (September 21), the director rose to international notoriety with a trilogy of long-form art-house favorites including 2000's Werkmeister Harmonies (October 6 and 12), 1988's Damnation (October 5), and 1994's seven-and-a-half-hour Satantango (October 13). Though Tarr's time-melting experiments may seem vulnerable to the criticism of spectacle over substance, conceit over content, his films are actually very intimate. Tarr shows us the cut-scenes of life, the moments between lines of dialogue, the hours that pass between life-changing events. By filming these epic feats of the ordinary, Tarr brings the existential white noise to a shattering crescendo—and then he takes it up a notch. Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis; 612.375.7600. Sept 14 dialogue, retrospective Sept 12-Oct 21.