BUSAN: Hungarian Helmer Bela Tarr Longed To Be a Philosopher

Bella Tarr Busan Film Festival
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

BUSAN — Organic, contemplative, bleak and slow are adjectives frequently used to describe the works of iconoclastic Hungarian director Bela Tarr, who made seven-hour “Satantango” and retired from directing after making “The Turin Horse.” His admirers hail him as a genius who gets closer to reality of life than almost anyone else. He shares his unique world view this week in a Busan Master Class.

You were in your teens when you started making films.

I did not want to become a film-director. I would have liked to become a philosopher. I thought my task in the world was to change it.

What makes a film a Bela Tarr film?

If you are a real filmmaker you have to have your own style, your own language. Filmmaking is a kind of reaction to the world. You’re just telling people how you see the world from your point of course.

Your films are artistic…

I learned more from paintings and the other visual arts than from the movies

… But they can be hard to watch

Some long takes and camera movements and black and white. This is something I like, and if you like something you have to do it.

Use of non-professional actors is a recurring theme 

It doesn’t matter if I’m working with a big film star or someone from the next factory, I’m looking for their personality, how they react.

Collated by Patrick Frater from published and unpublished interviews.

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