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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Comparative Cinematics : Jancsó & Tarr (Kevin B. Lee)

Keyframe: Mapping the Long Take (Tarr Béla, Jancsó Miklós) 5'49"
By Kevin B. Lee from Fandor

[..] Comparing this one shot from The Turin Horse (2011) with the one that we just watched [The Red and The White], you can see how Bela Tarr‘s use of the long take both incorporates and rejects different elements of Jancso’s camerawork. Here the camera is less active and elaborate, and the staging is less busy. Instead, there’s a greater emphasis on physicality. [..] The moments where the camera is static let us focus on the material, tactile qualities of the visuals: stone, wood and dirt. [..]
Bela Tarr uses [long take] to convey the palpable sensations of a lived experience, one of harsh, grueling exertion. Like the Jancso scene, there’s a pendulum-like rhythm to the camera movement as it moves back and both between two poles of activity. Like Jancso, though to a lesser degree, Tarr is able to use off-screen space to economize activity: Notice how by the time the camera returns to the house, the woman has almost finished packing the wagon. [..]

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Matthew Barrington said...

Hi Harry.

Was wondering if you had ever come across the cinema of Joanna Hogg?

Her films Unrelated and Archipelago seem to closely relate to the criteria discussed in your blog yet I have never seen them mentioned.

Any thoughts?

HarryTuttle said...

Hi Matthew, you're right. Archipelago is a nice little contemplative film. I don't know about the other though. If the shots are contemplative and the dialogues remain on the "candid" slice of life side... it somehow lacks ambition and depth. A bit like a Reichardt film. For instance, Fogo is a lot more minimalistic (both in form and content) and achieves a lot more depth in both departments. This family drama, however simplified, is still treading the typical family crisis melo material, which is the drive of a soap or a melodrama (absent father, brother-sister conflict, master-servant divide, crush on the maid), and the film only scratches the surface. The actors are too self-conscious about restraining themselves, it's barely natural.
But overall for first or second film it's pretty well warped up and coherent. Hopefully matching serious topics with serious form in her next films with higher aspirations.
Thanks for the recommendation.