Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Béla Tarr|
|Produced by||Béla Tarr|
|Screenplay by||László Krasznahorkai
|Based on||The Melancholy of Resistance
by László Krasznahorkai
|Music by||Mihály Vig|
|Cinematography||Patrick de Ranter|
|Editing by||Ágnes Hranitzky|
|Running time||145 minutes|
Werckmeister Harmonies (pronounced [verkˈmaɪ̯stɐ]; Hungarian: Werckmeister harmóniák) is a 2000 Hungarian film directed by Béla Tarr, based on the 1989 novel The Melancholy of Resistance by László Krasznahorkai. Shot in black and white and composed of thirty-nine languidly paced shots, the film describes the aimlessness and anomie of a small town on the Hungarian plain that falls under the influence of a sinister traveling circus lugging the immense body of a whale in its tow. A young man named János tries to understand order in the increasingly restless town even as he begins to see degradation.
The title refers to the baroque musical theorist Andreas Werckmeister. György Eszter, a major character in the film, gives a monologue propounding a theory that Werckmeister's harmonic principles are responsible for aesthetic and philosophical problems in all music since, which need to be undone by a new theory of tuning and harmony.
The story takes place in a small provincial town on the Great Hungarian Plain. The weather is bitterly cold (−17 °C / +1 °F) but no snow has fallen. Despite this, hundreds of bewildered men stand around a circus trailer (or corrugated iron box) in the main square, waiting to see the main attraction — the stuffed carcass of a whale. The men composing this faceless, ragged crowd have come from distant parts of the country as well as neighbouring settlements, and the strange state of affairs — the presence of strangers, the extreme cold — is disturbing the order of the small town. Relationships are changing, and some ambitious people feel they can take advantage of the situation; while others who are more passive fall into even deeper uncertainty. The unbearable tension is brought to a head by the figure of the Prince, a disfigured, Slovak-speaking figure, who is hiding behind the whale; his mere appearance is enough to unleash destructive emotions. The ensuing apocalypse spares no one.
Werckmeister Harmonies has received critical acclaim. At Metacritic, the film received an average score of 92/100, based on 8 reviews, which indicates "Universal acclaim". Based on 30 reviews, Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 97% rating, with an average score of 8.3/10.
Film critic Roger Ebert described the film as "unique and original", and it "feels as much like cinema verite as the works of Frederick Wiseman." He went on to add the film to his "Great Movies" collection. 
- Werckmeister Harmonies at the Internet Movie Database
- Werckmeister Harmonies at Rotten Tomatoes
- Werckmeister Harmonies at allmovie