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
During the shooting the temperature dropped to -15 degrees Celsius. See more »
Janos finds Lajos, who is supposedly dead, yet you can clearly see the actor breathing. See more »
You are the sun. The sun doesn't move, this is what it does. You are the Earth. The Earth is here for a start, and then the Earth moves around the sun. And now, we'll have an explanation that simple folks like us can also understand, about immortality. All I ask is that you step with me into the boundlessness, where constancy, quietude and peace, infinite emptiness reign. And just imagine, in this infinite sonorous silence, everywhere is an impenetrable darkness. Here, we only experience ...
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This is as bleak a film as I have since for a long time. Seen mainly through the eyes of a 'holy fool', played by German Lars Rudolph, it may be allegorical, it may be a horror story or it might even be a distinctively Hungarian very black comedy.
Bela Tarr's direction is stunning. The lighting is brilliant throughout, but none more so than when the circus comes to town in the middle of the night. The care and patience with which scenes are built greatly enhances the intensity of the most violent moments. The scene, for example, when a mob march down a long street before attacking a hospital matches the greatest moments of black-&-white silent cinema.
The film retains a disturbing ambiguity throughout, right up to its powerful ending. What is the significance of the whale and its owners? And is Valuska (Lars Rudolph) as innocent as it seems on the surface? The result is a long (140 minutes), gripping and exciting film that leaves more questions than answers at the end.
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