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Bella Tarr: Creme de la crème of art films
Author:Raju Maskey  Date:2017-10-31  Clicks:

Béla Tarr delivering the lecture

Last month, Hungarian filmmaking maestro Béla Tarr was invited to speak at the 197th Luojia Lecture themed My Road to Movies. Jointly organized by the School of Arts and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Old Library, the filmmaker was presented with a Luojia Lecture souvenir by deputy secretary Shen Zhuanghai amidst a passionate crowd of art students and film-lovers. 

After receiving the honor, he expressed his gratitude, “This has really deeply touched me. When I was doing my movies, I went to the locations. We were fighting with nature. I never believed once that I will get this in Wuhan. It shows me the power of picture.”

Cinema as an art form that transcends cultural and linguistic limitation, as he puts it, “We have a beautiful language---the picture. I am very happy you understand what we wanted to tell you. We have an international language---doesn’t matter which is our mother language, national language and cultural background. We are speaking the same language.”

His relatively short speech drew several rounds of applause from the audience. He accented that filmmaking now lies in the hands of this generation, “Even if I quit filmmaking, I still believe in you. You are the future of cinema”, he said to all the young audience members. “I wish you to be strong, be yourself and show your imagination. I wish you all the best.” After the floor opened for questions, he gave away a sage advice on how to overcome hardships, “You have to learn how you can be yourself. Just listen to the life, nothing more. Don’t think about the dark, just think about what’s happening in the light—what others think about. Love the people.”

Attendee asking a question

To him, the biggest challenge to artworks is the brevity of our lives, as he went on, “the biggest problem is that our life is short and it is limited. The most tragic thing is the ending of life.” He also revealed why he prefers black and white films over color films, “for me, black and white is more colorful than colored pictures. You can see that it’s made by somebody. It’s not realistic or accidental.”

His latest magnum opus, before his unexpected retirement, Turin horse, was screened at the lecture. The movie revolves around the challenging lives of an aging farmer, his daughter and a fractious overworked horse that suddenly stops working. The movie is devoid of any narrative and the sequences are beautifully shot in a bleak windswept farm. On the Socio-realist allegories of the film, he expounded, “Life is full of suffering for a lot of people. Clearly, they are capable of living a better life but the conditions are not allowing them.”

A still from “Turin Horse”

Bella Tarr is undoubtedly one of the best European auteurs of this century. His cinematic style is characterized by uninterrupted tracking shots, hypnotic rhythm, and black and white cinematography. During 30 years of his prodigious career, he has delivered several polarizing films including Damnation, Almanac of Fall, Satan’s Tango The Outsider, Family Nest and Werckmeister Harmonies which has raised his stature as a widely revered film director. His feature film The Man from London competed at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007.


Edited by Li Yunzhen, Edmund Wai Man Lai & Hu Sijia

Photo by Chen Ziyao


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