BP’s Top 100 Movie List Challenge #84: Werckmeister Harmonies, by Sarah Brinks
I decided to undertake a movie challenge in 2017. This seemed like a good way to see some classic movies that I have unfortunately never seen – the Battleship Pretension Top 100 provided just that challenge.
You can’t be a listener of Battleship Pretension for long without hearing a reference to Werckmeister Harmonies. I kept hearing about this film but had never made the time to check it out until the Battleship Pretension Top 100 Challenge gave me the opportunity.
I think all film fans and critics have specific parts of film or filmmaking that drive them to seek out and watch movies. For some it is the technical aspect of filmmaking like lenses or cameras, for some it is editing or direction, for me it is always character/performance and story. I can forgive a lot if there is a good story with interesting characters that are well acted. Werckmeister Harmonies was a little different for me. I felt much more in tune with the direction and the camera work. A big part of it is director Bela Tarr’s choice to use only 39 long and languidly paced shots to make up his film. As a result you can’t help but notice the camera and the way it moves around the scenes.
I will admit the pace of the film was a little slow for me but overall I liked the story and the slow evolution of the unrest in the city and how it boiled to the surface and suddenly dissipated. I think this is a film that will benefit from future viewings and more time to think about it. The soundtrack was a real highlight. It fits the emotions on the screen and is just beautiful to listen to.
I’ve decided to rate each film using an arbitrary scale based on the board game Battleship (lowest: Destroyer, Submarine, Cruiser, Battleship, highest: Carrier)
Werckmeister Harmonies ranking: Submarine