Werckmeister Harmonies (2000)
"Werckmeister harmóniák" (original title)

Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 8.2/10 from 8,105 users   Metascore: 92/100
Reviews: 54 user | 52 critic | 8 from Metacritic.com

This story takes place in a small town on the Hungarian Plain. In a provincial town, which is surrounded with nothing else but frost. It is bitterly cold weather - without snow. Even in ... See full summary »


(novel), (screenplay), 4 more credits »
0Check in

On Disc

at Amazon

5 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Damnation (1988)
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A lonely barfly falls in love with a married bar singer.

Director: Béla Tarr
Stars: Gábor Balogh, János Balogh, Péter Breznyik Berg
Satantango (1994)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

In a small, dilapidated village in 1990s Hungary, life has come to a virtual stand-still. The Autumn rains have started. A few of the villagers expect to receive a large cash payment that ... See full summary »

Director: Béla Tarr
Stars: Mihály Vig, Putyi Horváth, László feLugossy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A rural farmer is forced to confront the mortality of his faithful horse.

Directors: Béla Tarr, Ágnes Hranitzky
Stars: János Derzsi, Erika Bók, Mihály Kormos
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

One night Maloin, a switchman at a seaside railway station situated by a ferry harbor, witnesses a terrible event. He is just watching the arrival of the last ferry at night from his ... See full summary »

Directors: Béla Tarr, Ágnes Hranitzky
Stars: Miroslav Krobot, Tilda Swinton, Erika Bók
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A large, claustrophobic apartment is the setting for this intense chamber drama. In this dense setting, the inhabitants of the apartment reveal their darkest secrets, fears, obsessions and hostilities.

Director: Béla Tarr
Stars: Hédi Temessy, Erika Bodnár, Miklós B. Székely
The Sacrifice (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

At the dawn of World War III, a man searches for a way to restore peace to the world and finds he must give something in return.

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Stars: Erland Josephson, Susan Fleetwood, Allan Edwall
The Mirror (1975)
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A dying man in his forties remembers his past. His childhood, his mother, the war, personal moments and things that tell of the recent history of all the Russian nation.

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Stars: Margarita Terekhova, Filipp Yankovskiy, Ignat Daniltsev
Andrei Rublev (1966)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

The life, times and afflictions of the fifteenth-century Russian iconographer.

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Stars: Anatoliy Solonitsyn, Ivan Lapikov, Nikolay Grinko
Nostalgia (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

The Russian poet Andrei Gorchakov, accompanied by guide and translator Eugenia, is traveling through Italy researching the life of an 18th-century Russian composer. In an ancient spa town, ... See full summary »

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Stars: Oleg Yankovskiy, Erland Josephson, Domiziana Giordano
Ordet (1955)
Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

People believe in the dead Christ, but not in the living.

Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer
Stars: Henrik Malberg, Emil Hass Christensen, Preben Lerdorff Rye
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

In WW2, twelve year old Soviet orphan Ivan Bondarev works for the Soviet army as a scout behind the German lines and strikes a friendship with three sympathetic Soviet officers.

Directors: Andrei Tarkovsky, Eduard Abalov
Stars: Nikolay Burlyaev, Valentin Zubkov, Evgeniy Zharikov
A Man Escaped (1956)
Drama | Thriller | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Captured French Resistance fighter Andre Devigny awaits a certain death sentence for espionage in a stark Nazi prison. Facing malnourishment and paralyzing fear, he must engineer an ... See full summary »

Director: Robert Bresson
Stars: François Leterrier, Charles Le Clainche, Maurice Beerblock


Cast overview, first billed only:
Lars Rudolph ...
János Valuska
Peter Fitz ...
György Eszter
Tünde Eszter
János Derzsi ...
Man In The Broad-Cloth Coat
Djoko Rosic ...
Man In Western Boots (as Djoko Rossich)
Tamás Wichmann ...
Man In The Sailor-Cap
Ferenc Kállai ...
Mihály Kormos ...
Putyi Horváth ...
Porter (as dr. Horváth Putyi)
Enikö Börcsök
Éva Almássy Albert ...
Aunt Piri (as Almási Albert Éva)
Irén Szajki ...
Mrs. Harrer
Alfréd Járai ...
Lajos Harrer
György Barkó ...
Mr. Nadabán
Lajos Dobák ...
Mr. Volent


This story takes place in a small town on the Hungarian Plain. In a provincial town, which is surrounded with nothing else but frost. It is bitterly cold weather - without snow. Even in this bewildered cold hundreds of people are standing around the circus trailer, which is put up in the main square, to see - as the outcome of their wait - the chief attraction, the stuffed carcass of a real whale. The people are coming from everywhere. From the neighboring settlings, even from quite far away parts of the country. They are following this clumsy monster as a dumb, faceless, rag-wearing crowd. This strange state of affairs - the appearance of the foreigners, the extreme frost - disturbs the order of the small town. Aambitious personages of the story feel they can take advantage of this situation. The tension growing to the unbearable is brought to explosion by the figure of the Prince, who is pretending facelessness. Even his mere appearance is enough to break loose destructive emotions.... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Mystery


See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| | |



Release Date:

1 February 2001 (Hungary)  »

Also Known As:

A Harmonia Werckmeister  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


FRF 10,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film was made with 6 cameramen: one American, two Hungarians, two Germans and one Frenchman. See more »


Janos finds Lajos, who is supposedly dead, yet you can clearly see the actor breathing. See more »


György Eszter: I have to make it clear that not even for a moment is there doubt that it is not a technical but a philosophical question. So that the tonal system in question, through researches, has led us inevitably to a test of faith, in which we ask: on what do we base our belief that this harmony, the core of every masterpiece, referring to its own irrevocability, actually exists or not. From this it follows that we should speak of, not research into music, but a unique realization of non-music which for...
See more »


References Damnation (1988) See more »


Book 1 - Prelude No. 8 in E-flat minor (BWV 853)
from The Well-Tempered Clavier
composed by Johann Sebastian Bach
The "grating" recording that György listens to in his study, though the piano is far from "perfectly tuned".
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A nightmarish vision of a town going mad
19 May 2003 | by (Vancouver, B.C.) – See all my reviews

It is closing time in a bar somewhere in Eastern Europe. Someone says, "Show us, Janos". A blank faced young man, Janos Valuska (Lars Rudolph), begins to organize a ballet of inebriated patrons playing the Sun and the Moon turning in their orbits. Valuska pleads, "All I ask is that you step with me into the bottomlessness." As the dance continues, the men are spun. They stop suddenly as the orchestrater tells us that "in this awful, incomprehensible dusk, everything that lives is still…" Then, with a push, the dancers carry on until the Earth emerges from the Moon's shadow. The eternal conflict between darkness and light begins again.

Containing shots that last up to fifteen minutes at a time, Werckmeister Harmonies, the latest film by Bela Tarr (Satantango, Damnation), is a nightmarish vision of a society duped by political demagogues and distracted by circuses, being led into a cycle of violence and despair. Based on a novel by László Krasznahorkai, it is a powerful and disturbing film that, in its surreal depiction of growing madness in an unnamed town, is reminiscent of Roy Andersson's Songs From the Second Floor. The film takes its name from the theories of Janos' "uncle" Gyorgy Eszter (Peter Fitz), a musicologist who tells him of his obsession with the legacy of Andreas Werckmeister, a 17th century German musician who created the twelve-tone scale. Eszter believes that perfect order does injustice to the holiness of music, and says that the heavens move to their own music.

As Janos leaves the bar and walks through the cold and half-deserted streets, streets that in T.S. Eliot's phrase "follow like a tedious argument of insidious intent", an enormous van drives up the main street and comes to rest in a great empty square in the town center. A circus is in town. The exhibit contains the world's largest whale, dead and stuffed with tiny staring eyes, and The Prince, a shadowy figure that we never see. The town is full of rumors of impending violence. Janos sees the whale and watches a growing group of seemingly unemployed middle aged men gather silently around fires in the square. He seems to know everyone in the town. To further her political agenda of "town cleansing" (read ethnic cleansing), Eszter's estranged wife, Tunde (Hanna Schygulla), sends the compliant Janos on errands. He is told to put the children of the police chief to bed but, as if presaging the coming violence, they stomp on their beds to a cacophony of noise while one shouts at Janos over and over again. "It will be hard for you". "It will be hard for you." He is also asked to listen to conversations in the square and report back to her, but he only hears the Prince saying, `What they build and what they will build is illusion and lies. What they think and what they will think is ridiculous'.

When the signal is given, the men in the square come together and march towards us with growing anger in a hypnotic parade lasting five terrifying minutes. They go on a rampage, setting fires and ransacking a hospital, beating the sick in an unbroken orgy of violence. Patients huddle by their beds in silent fear. Suddenly a door is opened. Confronted by the menacing faces, an emaciated old man stands naked in a shower bathed in an amorphous light. Transfixed by what they have seen, the men abandon their task and retreat silently into the street. On the morning after, order is restored. The van is broken down and the whale is exposed as little more than an overstuffed balloon. The Sun emerges from behind the Moon to the swell of ineffably beautiful music. We have reached the end of the cycle only to begin dancing again when the next Prince calls the tune.

28 of 39 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Good walking scenes in other films ?!? arkid77
Any intellectuals out there who didn't care for this? film_ophile
Prelude no. 8 in E-flat minor Potzdorf
Horror Genre? iguanaceros
Interpretations jec54
Region 1 DVD? radioheadrcm
Discuss Werckmeister Harmonies (2000) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: