János Valuska could be the director of the film or the director of the universe as he arranges the drunkards of the town in the formation of the solar system to explain the oncoming eclipse. “All I ask is that you step with me into the boundlessness where constancy, quietude and peace, infinite emptiness reign,” he – and apparently Béla Tarr – request. Vast, overpowering shots are strung together by a liquid, impassive camera observing the stark, isolated town in Tarr’s cosmic fairy tale. The recent arrival of a circus containing the remains of a giant whale and the unseen presence of a potentially powerful prince unnerves all except for János. The lone optimist, he is easily eclipsed by the residents’ rampant fear, paranoia and ominous prophecies. Exploited by dark political forces attempting to impose absolute order upon imperfect humanity, the troubled town summons an astonishing, metaphysical finale to Tarr’s transcendent vision.
Directed by Béla Tarr. With Lars Rudolph, Peter Fitz, Hanna Schygulla
Hungary/Italy/Germany/France 2000, 35mm, b/w, 145 min. Hungarian with English subtitles