notgettingenough 's Reviews > Tarr Bela

Tarr Bela by Jytte Jensen
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Feb 01, 11

bookshelves: haven-t-read-but

You start off with a perfectly acceptable Simenon story: The Man from London – French speakers can leave right now if they like – and a critically fancied film director, the Hungarian Bela Tarr.

Sounds good so far?

So the film starts and nothing happens, nothing happens….and still nothing happens. That’s fine. Couldn’t get me more excited. Honestly. A sudden exchange between two men, maybe no more than two sentences and you completely miss it. But that’s fine too, the ensuing dialogue will pick up on it. You aren’t lost yet. Ah but, you see, then nothing happens, I mean really nothing for really a very long time. And the next time somebody does speak it is in French and you realise that it didn’t really matter that you missed the first exchange because there aren’t any subtitles. There are, it turns out, when you change the perspective so that they show up ON the TV screen. But it doesn’t really matter when you suddenly do have subtitles because none of it makes any sense. The bits where something happens.

Not that I wish to imply that the bits where nothing happens make sense, because they don’t. But they were easier to nap through.

Bela Tarr is the master of the long take, in case you didn’t know that. So there are all these scenes where the camera looks for an excruciating period of time at nothing at all. Apparently at one point in the New York premier of this movie the projector broke down and cheering broke out in the audience. What I want to know is HOW DID THEY KNOW? It would take a good twenty minutes in this movie before you could even begin to suspect that something was up. Or down.

Apparently he’s done another movie on similar lines that is over seven hundred minutes long. Oh dearie me.

Still. It took me a while to figure out what this movie is all about and I think I’ve cracked it. It’s a tribute movie.

Do you remember Tarantino’s Deathproof? It was a tribute to Russ Meyer’s grindhouse movies and in particular Faster, Pussycat, Kill! Kill! Russ Meyer’s movies had been, amongst other things, his reaction to the European art movie. A kind of inverse tribute to them, in my view. And Bela Tarr has taken that a step further, creating the ultimate European art movie of the type Russ Meyer took his principled, big breasted stand against. Not his big breasts, his stars’ big breasts. Russ Meyer liked big breasts. Apparently when accused of being a breast man by a women’s libber some time he nicely replied ‘And that’s just the half of it.’

I’m sorry, Bela. The last thing in the world you’d have in your movie is a big breast. There’d always be the danger it’d start an action scene.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Manny (new)

Manny I think a couple of people get brutally murdered. But he manages to film it as though nothing had happened. From the point of view of pure technique, it's very impressive.


notgettingenough Manny wrote: "I think a couple of people get brutally murdered. But he manages to film it as though nothing had happened. From the point of view of pure technique, it's very impressive."

Yes, quite right. Nothing could be more removed from the Russ Meyer idea of what a brutal killing should look like. It's like the black side of something. The reverse tribute.


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