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The Cinema of Béla TarrThe Circle Closes$
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András Bálint Kovács

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231165310

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231165310.001.0001

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Style in the Early Years

Style in the Early Years

(p.21) Chapter Two Style in the Early Years
The Cinema of Béla Tarr

András Bálint Kovács

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines Béla Tarr's early filmmaking style. Tarr's early films were considerably different from the documentary-fiction stylistic norm which they otherwise followed. Although this difference can be grasped in stylistic terms, it concerns in the first instance the thematic focus. Tarr was interested mainly in human relations rather than in sociological or political reality, which he considered only as a background for his stories. He wanted to catch the “real” on the level of human communication, and he tried to adjust the stylistic norms of the documentary current to this level, which already had some stylistic constraints. He also realized that this was possible only if he accepted a particular authorial position, since what he wanted to provide was not an “objective” sociological description, but a subjective interpretation of human relations. He gradually selected and combined his stylistic and narrative devices so that the authorial aspect became more prominent, while the “reality effect” remained intact, thanks to improvisational acting. After all this, Tarr reached the stylistic system of John Cassavetes' films made in the 1970s, which he knew well and respected.

Keywords:   filmmaking, Béla Tarr, Hungarian film directors, filmmakers, documentary fiction, human relations, improvisation, John Cassavetes

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