New 4K Restoration by Hungarian National Film Institute


Miklós B. Székely, Vali Kerekes, Hédi Temessy, Gyula Pauer,

The first collaboration between what would become cinema’s holy trinity of melancholia—director Tarr, composer Mihály Víg, and writer László Krasznahorkai—Damnation boasts a noirish plotline of marital infidelity, scheming lovers, smuggling scams, and murder. Yet, as always with Tarr, the plot is barely noticeable amid an atmosphere of stasis and decay so meticulously rendered that it almost oozes from the screen. “My films don’t simply tell a story, they relate the world that surrounds it,” Tarr said. “Someone opens a door, we cut to the door. The entrance is the information. But an equally important piece of information is, what is the door like? In Damnation we continually leave the story to watch faces, or crumbling walls, or dogs, or the rain.” Existing in a realm of rain-lashed nights, deserted countrysides, and dimly lit, windowless rooms, Damnation was Tarr’s first movement away from traditional narrative, toward a cinema that holds the space around the plot in almost mystical awe, in which atmosphere, not language, is what defines and confines. For J. Hoberman, “Its melancholy, hurdy-gurdy score, exaggerated sound design, ritual ensemble dances, inexorable camera moves suggest a dry run for Tarr’s 1994 masterpiece, the immersive, seven-hour Satantango—at less than one-third the length.”

Jason Sanders
  • Béla Tarr
  • László Krasznahorkai
  • Gábor Medvigy
  • Hungarian
  • with English subtitles
Print Info
  • B&W
  • DCP
  • 116 mins
  • Arbelos