Almanac of Fall

Is it really possible: Bela Tarr in living, breathing, sumptuous color? 1984’s Almanac of Fall, a fascinating outlier in Tarr’s filmography, is a stunner in more ways than one: not only is it photographed in an abundance of hyper-saturated hues, but it also pays homage to the filmmaker whom Tarr has always claimed as his biggest influence: neither Tarkovsky nor Bergman — but Fassbinder. In a sinewy combination of The Bitter Tears Of Petra Von Kant’s hothouse chamber drama and Lola’s Sirk-ian visual palette, Tarr presents a five-pointed configuration of despairing Iron Curtain angst: an ill and emotionally frail mother, a delinquent son, an older man who’s supposedly his teacher, a libidinous nurse and her clueless boyfriend. More than one party has carnal relations with the nurse — and more than one party has designs on the old woman’s life savings. Never once leaving the confines of the baroque, run-down flat that the five souls damn each other in, Tarr executes a non-stop, fragile ballet of mise-en-scène, always framing each of the five as far apart as humanly possible, both in spirit and in the flesh. If you’ve ever been moved by Bela’s style, then Almanac of Fall will wow you in a wholly original and eloquent way.
Dir. Béla Tarr, 1984, 35mm, 119 min.

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