Interview to Bela Tarr [Kinoeye]

Once again I quote some intriguing views by Bela Tarr, interviewed in 2004 by Phil Ballard for Kinoeye:

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Dutch Proverbs
Could you talk a little about the reason behind your very long takes?
Bela Tarr: What can I tell you about this generally? The people of this generation know information-cut, information-cut, information-cut. They can follow the logic of it, the logic of the story, but they don't follow the logic of life. Because I see the story as only just a dimension of life, because we have a lot of other things. We have time, we have landscapes, we have meta-communications, all of which are not verbal information. If you watch the news it is just talking, cutting, maybe some action and afterwards talking, action, talking. For us, the film is a bit different.

And what about your approach to narrative?
 We have a different kind of narration. For us, the story is the secondary thing. The main thing is always how you can touch the people? How can you go closer to real life? How can you understand something about life, because as we talk a lot of other things are happening. We don't know, for instance, what is happening under the table, but there are interesting, important and serious things happening.

Of equal significance?
 It is full of meta-communication. That is the reason why we like to cut: always for the meta-communication. We just follow the real psychological process, not the story, not the verbal information.

You work primarily with the same close-knit group of people. You are obviously very comfortable with László Krasznahorkai (your co-script writer), Mihály Vig (your composer) and Ágnes Hranitzky (your assistant and editor). Do you work as a collaborative team or do you accept the auteur theory that the director is the main source of the work?
 I am a very autocratic guy and everything is in one pair of hands. Film-making is not a democratic process. I must decide everything. But I would be crazy, a madman, if I didn't listen to my composer, cameraman and my writer. I must listen to them because I involve them in this work and they want to do their best for the project, but the final decisions are obviously mine. Ágnes and I have the same opinion; we have the same point of view about life. That's the reason why when we are working we don't talk about art or philosophical questions or theoretical things. We just work and talk about the concrete situation: what is happening, how we can work with the actors, how they can be deeper and deeper? That's the most interesting thing.

Do you accept the criticism of your work that it's bleak? It appears to have very little hope.
No, because I think we are full of hope. If you make a film you can believe it will still exist in the next fifty years and somebody can watch this film later, which is the biggest kind of optimism.

The hope is the actual creative process?
Yes, absolutely.

So you don't accept the existential idea that the human condition is absurd?
No, it's not absurd. The world is moving and turning and people are seeing films. This is our film, that's all. We just want to show to you and to everybody how the human condition is. That's all. We don't want to judge anybody. We don't want to make any interpretation. We just want to show something of what's going on.


Complete interview: http://www.kinoeye.org/04/02/ballard02.php

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