Béla Tarr is a Hungarian filmmaker known for his long takes, slow pacing, and dark, philosophical themes.

His films often explore the human condition through the lens of everyday life, and his unique approach to storytelling has earned him a devoted following among cinephiles.

Some of Tarr’s most acclaimed films include “Satantango” (1994), a seven-hour meditation on life in a Hungarian village; “Werckmeister Harmonies” (2000), a surreal and haunting tale about a small town plagued by mysterious visitors; and

“The Turin Horse” (2011), a bleak and meditative portrait of a farmer and his horse struggling to survive in a barren landscape.

Tarr’s films are often challenging, but they are also deeply rewarding for those willing to engage with his singular vision.

His use of long takes and minimalist storytelling creates a powerful sense of atmosphere and mood, and his exploration of themes such as power, morality, and the human condition is both thought-provoking and emotionally resonant.

Best Bela Tarr Films

Béla Tarr is a filmmaker who pushes the boundaries of cinema and challenges viewers to see the world in new and profound ways.

His films are a must-watch for anyone interested in the art of cinema and the power of storytelling.

1. Satantango (1994)

“Satantango” is a 1994 Hungarian art film directed by Béla Tarr, adapted from the novel of the same name by László Krasznahorkai.

The film follows the lives of a group of villagers in a small Hungarian town as they wait for the return of a charismatic leader, Irimiás, who they believe will bring them salvation.

The film is known for its slow pacing and long takes, which allow for a sense of time and place to develop.

This deliberate pacing allows the viewer to fully immerse themselves in the world of the film and experience the sense of existential despair that pervades it.

“Satantango” is also notable for its striking black and white cinematography, which is used to great effect in creating a stark and haunting atmosphere.

The film’s visual style is both beautiful and unsettling, and it perfectly captures the bleakness and isolation of life in a small, decaying town.

   

Overall, “Satantango” is a challenging and deeply rewarding film that offers a unique and uncompromising vision of the human condition.

It is a work of art that demands patience and attention from its viewers, but those who are willing to invest the time will be rewarded with a powerful and unforgettable cinematic experience.

Sátántangó [Blu-ray]
  • Erika Bok, Mihaly Vig, Dr. Putyi Horvath (Actors)
  • Bela Tarr (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

2. The Turin Horse (2011)

“The Turin Horse” is a Hungarian film directed by Béla Tarr and released in 2011.

The film is a bleak and uncompromising meditation on the futility of life and the crushing weight of existence.

The film is set in a small village in rural Hungary, and follows the daily routine of a father and daughter who are struggling to eke out a living in a world that seems to be conspiring against them.

The film is marked by its slow pacing, long takes, and stark visual style, as well as its bleak and oppressive atmosphere.

Despite its challenging subject matter and style, “The Turin Horse” has been widely acclaimed by critics and has been hailed as a masterpiece of contemporary cinema.

The film is notable for its uncompromising vision, its powerful themes, and its haunting and unforgettable images. It is a must-see for anyone interested in the art of filmmaking and the exploration of the human condition.

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The Turin Horse [Blu-ray]
  • Janos Derzsi, Erika Bok, Mihaly Kormos (Actors)
  • Bela Tarr (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

3. Werckmeister Harmonies (2000)

“Werckmeister Harmonies” is a 2000 Hungarian film directed by Béla Tarr, based on the novel “The Melancholy of Resistance” by László Krasznahorkai.

The film tells the story of a small town in Hungary that is disrupted by the arrival of a mysterious circus featuring a giant whale.

The film is known for its slow pacing, long takes, and haunting, surreal atmosphere. Tarr’s camera moves slowly and deliberately through the town, capturing the faces and actions of its inhabitants as they are drawn into the circus’s strange and unsettling performances.

The whale, which is never shown directly on screen, serves as a powerful symbol of the forces of chaos and disruption that threaten to upend the town’s social order.

   

At its heart, “Werckmeister Harmonies” is a deeply philosophical film that explores the nature of power, authority, and the human condition.

Through its surreal imagery and minimalist storytelling, the movie asks questions about the role of art and the individual in society, and the ways in which we can be manipulated by those in positions of authority.

Overall, “Werckmeister Harmonies” is a challenging but rewarding film that showcases Tarr’s unique approach to filmmaking and his ability to create a powerful sense of atmosphere and mood.

It’s a must-watch for fans of art-house cinema and anyone interested in exploring the deeper questions of human existence.

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Werckmeister Harmonies
  • English (Subtitle)

4. The Outsider (1981)

“The Outsider” is a 1981 biographical film directed by Tony Richardson and starring actor and playwright James Mason in the lead role of English novelist and poet D.H. Lawrence.

The film follows Lawrence’s life from his early days in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, through his travels in Italy, Germany, and Australia, and finally to his death in France in 1930.

One of the key strengths of “The Outsider” is James Mason’s remarkable performance as Lawrence.

Mason brings depth and nuance to the role, capturing Lawrence’s complex personality and his struggles with censorship, illness, and personal relationships.

   

The film is also notable for its beautiful cinematography, which captures the landscapes and natural beauty of the places Lawrence lived and worked.

“The Outsider” is a thoughtful and moving exploration of the life of one of England’s most celebrated writers.

It is a biographical film that transcends the usual cliches and conventions of the genre, offering a nuanced and insightful look into the life and work of a literary icon. Fans of D.H. Lawrence and literary biopics in general will find much to appreciate in this film.

The Outsider: The First Season (DVD)
  • Ben Mendelsohn, Bill Camp, Jeremy Bobb (Actors)
  • Andrew Bernstein (Director) - Richard Price (Writer) - Ben Mendelsohn (Producer) - Stephen King...
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

5. Macbeth (II) (1983 TV Movie)

The 1983 TV movie “Macbeth” is an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play of the same name, directed by Jack Gold and starring Nicol Williamson as Macbeth and Jane Lapotaire as Lady Macbeth.

The film is notable for its intense and visceral portrayal of the play’s themes of ambition, power, and the corrupting influence of evil.

The film is marked by its bold and stylized visual style, which is heavily influenced by the horror genre and features striking imagery and graphic violence.

The performances of Williamson and Lapotaire are also noteworthy, with Williamson delivering a commanding and complex portrayal of the tragic hero Macbeth and Lapotaire imbuing Lady Macbeth with a sense of chilling intensity and madness.

While the film was not a commercial success upon its release, it has since been recognized as a notable and influential adaptation of Shakespeare’s play.

Its bold visual style and powerful performances make it a must-see for fans of Shakespeare and lovers of bold and innovative filmmaking.

Macbeth (1983) ( The Complete Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare: Macbeth ) [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2.4 Import - United Kingdom ]
  • Macbeth (1983) ( The Complete Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare: Macbeth )
  • Macbeth (1983)
  • The Complete Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare: Macbeth
  • Nicol Williamson, James Bolam, Brenda Bruce (Actors)
  • Jack Gold (Director) - Macbeth (1983) ( The Complete Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare: Macbeth...

6. Damnation (1988)

“Damnation” is a 1988 Hungarian film directed by Béla Tarr, who is known for his unique approach to filmmaking that emphasizes long takes, slow pacing, and atmospheric storytelling.

The movie tells the story of Karrer, a lonely and disillusioned man living in a small Hungarian town who becomes involved with a married woman named Krisztina.

As Karrer becomes increasingly obsessed with Krisztina, he is drawn into a world of crime and violence that threatens to destroy everything he holds dear.

At its heart, “Damnation” is a deeply philosophical film that explores the themes of alienation, loneliness, and the search for meaning in a world that seems increasingly indifferent to human suffering.

Through its complex characters and intricate narrative, the film asks important questions about the nature of human relationships, the role of art and culture in society, and the possibility of finding redemption in an often brutal and unforgiving world.

Overall, “Damnation” is a powerful and thought-provoking film that showcases Tarr’s unique vision and his ability to create a deeply affecting sense of mood and atmosphere.

It’s a must-watch for fans of art-house cinema and anyone interested in exploring the deeper questions of human existence.

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7. Almanac of Fall (1984)

“Almanac of Fall” is a 1984 Hungarian film directed by Béla Tarr, known for his long takes and slow-paced style.

The film focuses on the relationships between a wealthy, aging woman, her estranged daughter, and a manipulative young man who ingratiates himself with the family.

One of the most striking aspects of “Almanac of Fall” is its visual style. Tarr employs long, static takes that often last for several minutes, which forces the viewer to contemplate the characters and their relationships in great detail.

The film also features dark, moody cinematography that creates a sense of foreboding and unease.

The characters in the film are complex and well-drawn, and their relationships are fraught with tension, jealousy, and bitterness.

Tarr’s focus on the psychological and emotional states of the characters creates a sense of claustrophobia and anxiety that pervades the film.

Overall, “Almanac of Fall” is a challenging and thought-provoking film that rewards patient viewers who are willing to immerse themselves in its world.

It is a powerful exploration of family dynamics, power, and manipulation, and it showcases Tarr’s unique and uncompromising vision as a filmmaker.

Almanac of Fall
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Hdi Temessy, Erika Bodnr, Mikls Szkely B. (Actors)
  • Bla Tarr (Director) - Bla Tarr (Writer)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)

8. The Prefab People (1982)

“The Prefab People” (1982) is a British film directed by David Leland, based on the play “The Rank and File” by Kevin Clarke.

The film is a social drama that focuses on the lives of residents living in pre-fabricated housing units in a working-class neighborhood in Liverpool.

The film explores the struggles and frustrations of these residents, who are dealing with poverty, unemployment, and a lack of opportunities.

The characters in the film are vividly portrayed, with their hopes, dreams, and fears laid bare for the viewer.

The film is notable for its realistic portrayal of the social and economic conditions faced by working-class people in 1980s Britain.

It is a powerful and moving commentary on the struggles of ordinary people to find meaning and purpose in their lives.

The film is also notable for its strong performances, including a breakthrough performance by lead actress Kathy Burke.

Overall, “The Prefab People” is a must-see for anyone interested in social realism and the portrayal of working-class life on film. It is a powerful and moving film that still resonates with audiences today.

The Prefab People
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Judit Pogny, Rbert Koltai, Kyri Ambrus (Actors)
  • Bla Tarr (Director) - Bla Tarr (Writer)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)

9. Family Nest (1979)

“Family Nest” is a 1979 Hungarian film directed by Béla Tarr, which explores the complexities and tensions of family life in a small Hungarian apartment.

The film follows a married couple, their two young children, and the husband’s mother as they navigate the challenges of poverty, unemployment, and strained relationships.

As the family members struggle to make ends meet and maintain their fragile bonds, they are forced to confront their own shortcomings and the harsh realities of their situation.

The film is known for its naturalistic style and its unflinching portrayal of the difficulties of everyday life. Tarr’s use of long takes and unobtrusive camerawork creates a powerful sense of intimacy and realism, as viewers are drawn into the family’s world and witness their struggles and triumphs up close.

At its heart, “Family Nest” is a deeply humanistic film that explores the themes of love, family, and the resilience of the human spirit.

Despite its focus on the struggles and hardships of its characters, the movie ultimately offers a message of hope and optimism, highlighting the importance of connection and compassion in the face of adversity.

Overall, “Family Nest” is a poignant and affecting film that showcases Tarr’s unique ability to capture the complexities and contradictions of human relationships.

It’s a must-watch for fans of art-house cinema and anyone interested in exploring the deeper questions of human existence.

The Films of Bela Tarr: Family Nest
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Laszlo Horvath (Actor)
  • Bla Tarr (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)

10. The Man from London (2007)

“The Man from London” is a 2007 film directed by Hungarian filmmaker Béla Tarr, based on the novel of the same name by Georges Simenon.

The film is a moody and atmospheric noir-style thriller that explores themes of morality, fate, and the human condition.

The film tells the story of Maloin, a lonely and isolated railway worker who witnesses a murder while on the job.

In the aftermath of the crime, Maloin is drawn into a complex web of deception, violence, and corruption as he struggles to navigate the dangerous and murky world he has stumbled into.

“The Man from London” is notable for its stunning black-and-white cinematography, which captures the bleak and oppressive atmosphere of the story.

The film is also marked by its slow pacing, long takes, and minimalist dialogue, which lend it a meditative and contemplative quality.

Overall, “The Man from London” is a powerful and challenging film that rewards patient viewers with its evocative imagery and haunting themes.

It is a must-see for fans of European cinema and anyone interested in exploring the darker aspects of the human experience.

The Man From London
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Agi Szirtes, Tilda Swinton, Erika Bok (Actors)
  • B la Tarr (Director) - Miriam Zachar (Producer)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)

11. Hotel Magnezit (1978)

“Hotel Magnezit” is a 1978 Hungarian film directed by Béla Tarr, which explores the lives of the residents of a dilapidated hotel in a small Hungarian town.

The film tells a series of interconnected stories, as the hotel’s occupants go about their daily lives, dealing with issues such as poverty, loneliness, and the struggle for survival in a harsh and unforgiving world.

The film is known for its gritty, naturalistic style, which emphasizes the bleakness and despair of the characters’ lives.

Tarr’s use of long takes and minimal dialogue creates a sense of intimacy and realism, as viewers are drawn into the characters’ world and witness their struggles and triumphs up close.

At its heart, “Hotel Magnezit” is a deeply humanistic film that explores the themes of loneliness, alienation, and the search for connection and meaning in a world that often seems indifferent to human suffering.

Through its complex characters and intricate storytelling, the movie asks important questions about the nature of human relationships and the possibilities of finding hope and redemption in a world that can often seem dark and oppressive.

Overall, “Hotel Magnezit” is a powerful and affecting film that showcases Tarr’s unique ability to capture the complexities and contradictions of human experience.

It’s a must-watch for fans of art-house cinema and anyone interested in exploring the deeper questions of human existence.

12. Visions of Europe (2004)

“Visions of Europe” is a 2004 documentary television series produced by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) in collaboration with European filmmakers.

The series comprises 25 short films, each exploring a different European city, region, or theme.

Each film in “Visions of Europe” is directed by a different filmmaker, resulting in a diverse range of styles and perspectives.

The series features a mix of fiction, animation, and documentary filmmaking, and each film is designed to showcase the unique character and identity of the place or theme it explores.

Some of the notable films in “Visions of Europe” include “The Tyrrhenian Sea” by Italian director Franco Piavoli, which explores the beauty and rhythms of the Mediterranean coastline;

“The Budapest Bridge” by Hungarian director Béla Tarr, which uses long, static takes to capture the iconic Chain Bridge over the Danube River; and “A Perfect Couple” by French director Olivier Assayas, which tells the story of a chance encounter between two strangers in Paris.

Overall, “Visions of Europe” is a fascinating and visually stunning series that offers a unique perspective on the diverse cultures, landscapes, and histories of Europe. It is a must-watch for anyone interested in exploring the rich and varied tapestry of the continent.

VISIONS OF EUROPE
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

3 Characteristics of Bela Tarr Films

Bela Tarr is known for his distinct style of filmmaking, which is characterized by several key features. Here are three characteristics of Bela Tarr films:

Slow pacing and long takes: Tarr is famous for his use of long, unbroken takes and slow pacing in his films.

This allows for a contemplative and meditative mood to develop and gives the audience time to fully absorb and reflect on what is happening on the screen.

Black-and-white cinematography: Tarr often uses black-and-white cinematography in his films, which creates a stark and austere visual style that emphasizes the textures and details of the world he is portraying.

Focus on everyday life and the struggles of ordinary people: Tarr’s films often explore the lives of working-class and marginalized people, and the challenges they face in their day-to-day existence.

This emphasis on the struggles of ordinary people creates a sense of realism and authenticity in his films, and allows for a deep exploration of universal human experiences.

3 Reasons Why You Should Watch Bela Tarr Films

Bela Tarr is a Hungarian filmmaker who has been widely acclaimed for his unique approach to filmmaking. Here are three reasons why you should watch Bela Tarr films:

His films are visually stunning: Tarr’s films are known for their long takes and exquisite cinematography. He often uses black and white photography, which adds a sense of timelessness and melancholy to his work.

His use of light and shadow creates a haunting atmosphere that draws the viewer in.

His films are deeply philosophical: Tarr’s films are not just about the plot, but are often explorations of complex philosophical ideas.

His characters are often struggling with questions of morality, existentialism, and the meaning of life. Tarr’s films can challenge the viewer’s assumptions and force them to think deeply about the human condition.

His films are immersive experiences: Tarr’s films are often long and slow-paced, which may put off some viewers.

However, those who stick with them are rewarded with a deeply immersive experience. His films are not just entertainment, but are transformative experiences that can leave a lasting impression on the viewer.

They require patience and attention, but the reward is a unique and unforgettable cinematic journey.

Best Bela Tarr Films – Wrapping Up

Bela Tarr is a highly acclaimed Hungarian filmmaker known for his slow, contemplative, and visually stunning films that often explore themes of despair, isolation, and the human condition. Here are some of his best films that showcase his unique style and vision:

“Satantango” (1994): This seven-hour epic follows the lives of a group of villagers living in a small Hungarian town, and their various interactions with a con man who promises them a better life.

The film is noted for its slow, deliberate pacing, black-and-white cinematography, and immersive atmosphere.

“Werckmeister Harmonies” (2000): Set in a small Hungarian town, this film explores the arrival of a mysterious traveling circus and the ways in which it disrupts the lives of the townspeople.

The film features Tarr’s trademark use of long, unbroken takes, black-and-white cinematography, and a haunting score.

“The Turin Horse” (2011): This film tells the story of an old man and his daughter who live a bleak and isolated existence in rural Hungary, caring for their horse and enduring the harsh winter.

The film is noted for its stunning black-and-white cinematography, long takes, and immersive sound design.

“Damnation” (1988): Set in an unnamed industrial town in Hungary, this film tells the story of a man named Karrer, who becomes embroiled in a love triangle with a married woman and a wealthy businessman.

The film is noted for its striking visuals, moody atmosphere, and powerful performances.

Overall, Bela Tarr’s films are marked by their meticulous craftsmanship, immersive atmospheres, and deeply felt explorations of the human experience.

They challenge viewers to engage with complex themes and emotions, and offer a unique and unforgettable cinematic experience.