Only when sandwiched between Werckmeister Harmonies (and this was 7 years in the making after that film which was 6 years in the making after Satantango) and The Turin Horse does Tarr’s The Man From London disappoint. Still, a Bela Tarr B-side puts most of the rest of the cinema world shame with its genius
Rhythmic long takes– with languid camera movement, spectacular black/white photography
The opening is a 13-minute hypnotic shot (set to eerie organ music)—Tarr is really just setting the scene of the upcoming crime taking place like Rear Window. (in the next shot). Tarr’s camera starts with a reflection in the water, goes up the boat, through the window from pane to pane to a dock/train setting. The second shot is 5 minutes long where the crime takes place through Tarr’s atmospheric fog and lighting.
The 3rd shot is our Miroslav Krobot going down to investigate with the jaw-dropping museum piece shot of the three street lights up against the stark wall. 4th shot is him finding the money and the 5th is him saying “hi” 30 minutes it- the first dialogue in the film. There’s another stunner in the 6th shot of the alley in this down with the kid playing soccer and the camera pivots up.
Tarr’s average shot length is 6-7 minutes per take at this point. It drops a little over the rest of the film but it stays about 4 minutes per shot. This is Bela Tarr cinema—meditative.
Strong reoccurring image of the shot behind Miroslav Krobot’s head
The 7th shot is awe-inspiring photography. Light pouring in from the window, Krobot’s character taking his shoe off, the chair, the bird cage on the right—beautiful museum piece shot
Deliberate and controlled camera movements and pace. Tarr isn’t free-wheeling—everything so measured.
Like all of Tarr’s films he dubs the sound so he’s untethered. There’s the organ and accordion. The chopping of meat and the clashing of billiards balls. Even the dialogue—Tilda Swinton dubbed yelling in french
A nice shot at 104 minutes with the police inspector’s face in the frame with Krobot’s and then, in the same shot, we’re looking through the window pane at the body being dragged from the water
It serves an amazing application of a style. Almost as proof of Tarr’s aesthetic choices could hold up to a very normal noir/crime story (this premise/story directed by anyone else is so different—and that’s the definition of cinema style and being an auteur). – regardless of the story, the content, the style remains
I don’t love the final shot resting on the woman’s face m.
A nice shot over the head of the inspector at 119 minutes
A Highly Recommend film – worthy of a spot in the top 10 of any given year
I managed to find a DVD of this film from a private seller and I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about purchasing a film–only Criterion’s recent release of Juraj Herz’s The Cremator comes close. I first saw this film a few months ago and I still think about it constantly. Its mastery of contrast and composition is just awe-inspiring. I was engrossed from beginning to end.
@Evan C Paul — Great stuff here. Thanks for sharing. Agree- awe-inspiring. Well said.
[…] The Man from London – Tarr […]