Saturday, October 24, 2015
Very lucky, yesterday, to see two of my favourite films in one day. I can't honestly say that seeing The Werckmeister Harmonies for the first time on the big screen (also at the BFI Southbank) was as revelatory as Mirror. This one was shown on 35mm, though it was a surprisingly ropey print: beautiful when undamaged, but particularly at the beginning and end of reels seriously scratchy and juddery in places as well. Although this did have the effect of making the film look like it was more likely to have been made 50 years ago than 15, which was perhaps not inappropriate. It's not a competition, but for sheer impact I would have to say that Mirror wins the day: the intensity of The Werckmeister Harmonies feels a little one-note when seen immediately afterwards. But it is still an extraordinary cinematic experience; what seeing it on a big screen for the first time did certainly emphasise is how extraordinarily choreographed the cinematography is, how marvellously fluid while still retaining a lightness despite the fact that any frame chosen at random, one feels, would be perfectly composed. This ought to suck all the air out of the film but it manages not to. Worth emphasising, by the way, that the film is credited at the beginning to Lásló Krasznahorkai, Ágnes Hranitsky and Béla Tarr - the shorthand of "Tarr's films" should not be allowed to obscure this.