(aka "Les Harmonies Werckmeister" or "Werckmeister Harmonies" or "Die Werckmeisterschen Harmonien" )

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/tarr.htm
Hungary/Germany 2000

 The population of a provincial town on the Hungarian plains await the arrival of a circus that features the stuffed carcass of a whale and a mysterious Prince. Its appearance disturbs the order of the small town, unleashing a torrent of violence and beauty...

Poster

 

Theatrical Release Werckmesitr Harmonies: July 12th, 2000 - Belgium (Cinedecouvertes Age D'or Film Festival Brussels)

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DVD Comparison:

Artificial Eye (initial issue) - Region 2 - PAL vs. Artificial Eye (Re-Issue) - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Nick Wrigley of Masters of Cinema and Arvid for the Screen Caps!

(Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT vs. Artificial Eye (Re-Issue) - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

Distribution

Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL

Artificial Eye
Region 2 - PAL
Runtime 2:19:28 (4% PAL speedup) 2:19:20 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.78:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.71 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

Audio Hungarian - Dolby Digital (2.0)

Hungarian - Dolby Digital (2.0)

Subtitles Optional English (white) Optional English (white)
Features Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Damnation - Original aspect Ratio - 1.33:1

 

Edition Details:

Extras: 40 minute Bela Tarr video interview on stage at the NFT (London) in 2001


DVD Release Date:
Transparent, single sized, double Keep case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.66:1

Damnation- Original aspect Ratio - 1.33:1

 

Edition Details:

Extras: 40 minute Bela Tarr video interview on stage at the NFT (London) in 2001

DVD Release Date:
Transparent, single sized, double Keep case

Chapters 12

 

 

 

 

Comments
ADDITION: RE-ISSUE - SEPT - 05 - Artificial Eye are a good company. When they have made an error, they generally correct it as they did with their Mirror (Tarkovsky) DVD - initially released with only boosted, and inappropriately unoriginal, audio - they relented, fixed (added the original track) and had a campaign to return and obtain the replacement with the mono as an option. Not many companies do this. We feel we had a hand in forcing MGM do do this with their Bergman Box (and the incorrect aspect ratios), but a company like Criterion should do likewise with their recent, reversed negative scenes, Jules and Jim.

What AE did in this case is release the Tarr masterpiece, Werckmeister Harmonies, cropped from its original 1.66 to 1.78, supposedly to suit widescreen TV owners. the result is some head chopping - incorrect framing unintended by the director. It may seem petty to some, but allowing this standard or maintaining OAR (original aspect ratio) to slip can only lead to greater manipulations. To appreciate the artist the medium should never bend from their intent. AE understands this principle. You can see the amount of the cropping below and judge for yourself.

Other alterations from the initial release are that even the new menus are no longer widescreen (16X9) and the subtitles are slightly of a different font. AE did kind of screw-up again though as the new 1.66 edition is not anamorphic, although it looks a bit sharper. It seems very hard for some DVD production houses to make any ratio less than 1.78 be anamorphic. I don't know why. Regardless, DVDBeaver applauds effort of AE. We are unsure whether they are accepting a replacement program as they did for Mirror, but if we find out we will post here.

Gary Tooze

NOTE: The original captures were done with a Mac and the re-issue a PC so, although the disparity in sharpness quality is there, it may not be as pronounced it may appear. The main issue of aspect ratio is reported accurately.

******

Original review:

This long awaited double-disc set of two Bela Tarr films (DAMNATION (1987) and WERCKMEISTER HARMONIES (1999)) has had numerous delays but it is finally with us.

The back of the box erroneously states an AR of 1.66:1 - for which film? - I don't know because on these discs DAMNATION is presented in 1.33:1 and WERCKMEISTER HARMONIES is anamorphic 1.77:1 (hard matted to 1.77:1). All information points towards the OAR of WERCKMEISTER being 1.66:1, so we're losing a bit here, and the framing does look slightly cropped to me. It's not fatal though (like 1.33:1 cropped to 1.66:1 can be).

DAMNATION's OAR is 1.33:1 (despite IMdb stating a 1.85:1 ratio). It looks absolutely bang on here, and they've used a ravishing print. There are currently only hard to find/expensive Japanese Tarr DVDs available (no English subs) so this is the only option until something miraculous happens like a Criterion version (and that's not on the cards).

Artificial Eye's set has English subtitles on both films and, thankfully, they are optional and white. The picture has that Artificial Eye quality of being slightly hazy/blurry, which affects almost every disc of theirs. If you think AE discs look okay then I doubt you'll notice this but if you have a projection system or an eye for better transfers (like a good Criterion disc) then it may be a problem.

A real gem of an extra has been added in the way of a 40 minute onstage video interview with Tarr at the National Film Theatre in London by Jonathan Romney. Source video quality is slightly glitchy DV on this interview, but as it was probably never intended for DVD release I am very thankful it has been included. Tarr speaks in Hungarian through an interpreter (who is first class). A FANTASTIC extra. Kudos to Artificial Eye for digging around for this.

 
Artificial Eye have promised to look into releasing SATANTANGO on DVD if sales of this disc are good. What are you waiting for? Tarr fans unite and grab this!
 
I really wish DVD companies would respect the OAR of a film instead of hardmatting to 1.77:1 (which is a video AR, and *not* the AR of WERCKMEISTER HARMONIES). it is a very poor policy. Thankfully, DAMNATION is not affected by this.

 - Nick Wrigley

 

 



DVD Menus
(
Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT vs. Artificial Eye (Re-Issue) - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)


 

 


 

Screen Captures

(Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Artificial Eye (Re-Issue) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)
Subtitle sample

 

 


(Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Artificial Eye (Re-Issue) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Artificial Eye (Re-Issue) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Artificial Eye (Re-Issue) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Artificial Eye (Re-Issue) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Artificial Eye (Re-Issue) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Artificial Eye (Re-Issue) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


Report Card:

 

Image:

Sound:

Extras:
Menu:

(aka "Damnation")

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/tarr.htm

 

Damnation: In a small Hungarian town lives Karrer, a listless and brooding man who has almost completely withdrawn from the world but for an obsession for the singer in the bar that he frequents. Tarr's immaculately photographed and composed film is about eternal conflict: the centuries old struggle between barbarism and civilization.

Theatrical Release Damnation - West Germany 16 February 1988 (Berlin International Film Festival) 

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Gary Tooze

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