In the September issue of Cahiers (#637), one of the best filmmaker working today, Béla Tarr, casually declares at the end of an interview being fed up. He wants to end his career after his next film (in production now in November 2008) which will be his last. Tarr Béla, the Hungarian auteur who gave us : The Man From London (2007), Werckmeister harmóniák (2000), Sátántangó (1994), Damnation (1988), Almanac of Fall (1985), The Prefab People (1982), Family Nest (1979)...
Excerpt from the end of the interview (my unauthorized translation), by Cyril Neyrat and Emmanuel Burdeau made in Paris, on June 26, 2008 :
[about The Man From London]This interview is very disturbing, and I'm surprised Cahiers didn't even investigate the point, left him hanging there without trying to find out what he really meant by this. He also declared in a screening of The Man From London, in Paris (Sept 8, 2008) :
Cahiers : you suppressed almost all dialogue from Simenon's novel. The lines remaining are very strong, and performed with power. Where from does this excess of emotional expression?
Tarr : I maybe come back to my roots, Family Nest, my first movies in which I was very expressive. I admit I feel deeply fed up. I'm going to quit cinema, but not right away.
CdC: why fed up?
Tarr: I can't stand this fucking polite equality, "petite-bourgeoise", existing in the world. This deal between the poor and Society, how they are forced to accept this order, and we accept this shitty world, it's unbelievable. So no, I have to show what is really going on : people are fed up, their emotions are strong, powerful. And the question is : how these emotions are exploited, controlled, before the big bang.
CdC: Do you really mean to quit cinema?
Tarr: Yes. I just want to make one last film.
CdC: Do you have a scenario?
Tarr: Absolutely. I intend to start shooting in October. When you'll see it, you'll understand why it can only be my last film. I will shoot it in Hungary. Only 3 protagonists, a very small budget, a film very simple. Even more simple, purer.
CdC: What will you do then?
Tarr: Oh, I have plans. No, I don't want to die. I like life, I appreciate it, of course. I know very well how shitty it is, but I'm able to appreciate it. On one condition : that I'm able to do something. Or else..."
"he wanted to paint, take photographs and write in the future, avoiding the role of 'burned out director'."In another interview for the French website DVDrama (19 Sept 2008):
Tarr Béla : "I never compromised. If one day I had been stopped to do what I wanted, then I would have aborted the film,thus cinema altogether. I disagree with the idea that a film should be made at all costs because it is necessary to make a film, and in fact to sell out to the system. [...] By the way, I think my next feature film will be the last one and the pinnacle of my career.I don't know what are his motivations, if it's personal or if it's the struggle of making films in the margin... he probably knows what he's doing. The publicity stunt to boost his next film is highly unlikely.
DVDrama: Why the last one?
Tarr : Because I'm appalled by today's cinema. I think spectators want less and less a demanding cinema. [...] During all my career I made sure never to underestimate the capacity of the audience and I made films for those who like that, because I think they deserve it that such cinema must exist.
DVDrama: Should this renunciation be perceived as despair?
Tarr: Maybe, yes, but it's also because my cinema requires too much money and that I always used to push the rules in each new film, inventing ideas of mise en scène, while developing my own style. [...] With The Man From London, I realised that I maybe reached the limit of my capacity to renew myself and to create new forms.
Anyway, I'm disheartened at the idea that there will be no more masterpieces made by Tarr Béla, for us to anticipate and discover and explore and enjoy... after that last one. It's impossible. We need a Tarr Béla working to show there is light. Personally I believe he is the most sophisticated filmmaker in the world today. He's like Tarkovsky in his time, the one who understands the medium the best and pushes it where nobody else led it before, because he masters camerawork, photography, direction and timing so perfectly. He's a genius and we need many more of his films. Let's just tell him that he's not replaceable.
If only to show him support and love, I would like to propose to readers of Unspoken Cinema, and every admirer of his oeuvre in the world, to pass on a symbolic petition asking Tarr Béla to reconsider his decision, if it is even possible. The idea of a petition might sound ridiculous, but I prefer this gesture to the late regrets of an obituary, looking back with nostalgia on all the unfinished projects.
In any case, we need to get together, and make sure to give a triumphant reception to his next film, if it happens to be his last. Maybe a Tarr Béla blogathon would suit this event.
Please sign here to show your support, pass it on to everyone and share your opinions on the situation.