Born in 1955, Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr began making amateur films at the age of 16, later working as caretaker at a national House for Culture and Recreation. His amateur work brought him to the attention of the Bela Balazs Studios (named in honor of the Hungarian cinema theorist), which helped fund Tarr’s 1979 feature debut Family Nest, a work of socialist realism clearly influenced by the work of John Cassavettes. The 1981 piece The Outsider and the following year’s The Prefab People continued in much the same vein, but with a 1982 television adaptation of Macbeth, his work began to change dramatically; comprised of only two shots, the first shot (before the main title) was five minutes long, with the second 67 minutes in length. Not only did Tarr’s visual sensibility move from raw close-ups to more abstract mediums and long shots, but also his philosophical sensibility shifted from grim realism to a more metaphysical outlook similar to that of Andrei Tarkovsky. After 1984’s… read more
What a wonderful world it isn't, here as elsewhere for Tarr. Still, this film plays differently, being as richly colorful as it is emotionally claustrophobic. Essentially a chamber piece -- all of the action takes place in the same apartment, with the only hint of an exit being provided by the professor as he's dragged away by police -- Almanac breathes an air of Strindbergian despair. The devil is comfortable there.
Agree with below poster that this one reminds of Fassbinder more than his other work. Amazing use of color and I loved the "from the floor up" scene (anyone whose seen it knows what I'm talking about). In a way, I think this film was darker than some of his later work but that may be completely personal as how it struck me and the mood I was in.
More reminiscent of Fassbinder than any other work of Tarr's that I have seen. Beautiful artificial lighting illuminates the often jarring mise en scène (against the actors and camerawork). There is some terrific dialogue here - an element of Film that I usually despise - and also some beautiful and inventive compositions. Just misses out on 5 stars.
Seems as though most of Tarr's more interesting works (though all that I've seen have a good level of interest) focus on the notion of dead people trying to come alive, and this is one of his most striking examples of that such idea. A truly beautiful and yet utterly painful, enigmatic, stylized film. Savvy