Béla Tarr is clearly unfamiliar with the tool of editing. His “Werckmeister Harmonies,” a trudging, lumbering 2 ½ hour slog very much reminiscent of the dead whale carcass at its center, is quite the maddening experience. Is a nearly four minute, seemingly looped tracking shot of two men walking side by side without a word to each other necessary, when the shot could have easily skipped all that and jumped to their destination arrival? Debatable, and the camerawork is often impressive on a purely technical level anyway. Is any of it particularly interesting? Not for this viewer. Tarr’s message of innate human disruption, spiritual isolation, and the clash between natural order and one of a more man-made inclination is stuff worth exploring. Here, he takes an indulgently – and depressingly dour – long time to do so, with little sustainable interest.
EDIT: I need to see this again, as I watched and liked Sátántangó. Perhaps now that I know what to expect going into it I’ll appreciate it more.