Not quite a rhapsody in black and white

PUBLISHED: 12:42 11 December 2008 | UPDATED: 15:41 07 September 2010

The Man From London (12A) Director Bela Tarr Starring Miroslav Krobot, Erika Bok, Janos Derzi, Gyula Pauer, Tilda Swinton Black and white 135 mins Two star rating When it comes to black and white Hungarian movies, nobody is more black and white, more Hun

The Man From

London (12A)

Director Bela Tarr

Starring Miroslav Krobot, Erika Bok, Janos Derzi, Gyula Pauer, Tilda Swinton

Black and white

135 mins

Two star rating

When it comes to black and white Hungarian movies, nobody is more black and white, more Hungarian than Bela Tarr.

He specialises in long unbroken takes and minimal dialogue.

I'm a big fan of his bleak tundra epics - I sat through the seven hours of Satantango for fun and would rate Werckmeister Harmonies as one of this decade's best films. But this is a disappointment.

You expect nothing to happen in a Tarr film. But it's a disappointment to have one where nothing is going on.

The opening scene, a

15-minute take of a ship being unloaded in a dock at night is classic Tarr. But there's nothing else to match it. Perhaps that unique, distinctive style has become restrictive, almost a self-parody.

In the lead role as a man who witnesses a murder, Czech actor Krobot keeps himself to himself. He is indicative of a film that's

not inclined to give away anything with regards to its plot, characterisation or even where and when the film might be set.

By his standards, this is a weak film. But it has been rendered ridiculous by the process of dubbing it into French and English.

There is a Hungarian language version in which Swinton and Krobot are dubbed into Hungarian and that must surely be superior.

There were audible gasps from critics at the end when the credits revealed that Edward Fox had voiced the detective character because it was so stilted. But the Hungarian actor he's dubbing pauses in all the wrong places so it's an impossible job.


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