Once upon a time in Hungary

Béla Tarr’s epic arrives on DVD
By PETER KEOUGH  |  August 26, 2008
4.0 4.0 Stars

My bet is that it’s the truth about the doctor (Peter Berling), a crapulous hulk nearly paralyzed by drink who spies on the other characters and haltingly writes out their speculated dossiers. Maybe their lives are only the invention of his imagination, a desperate attempt to fill the void between one drink and the next, one labored breath and another. He stirs from his post only when the brandy runs out (the result is disastrous), or when something ineffable calls from outside, leading him to a roofless church (think of the one from Andrei Tarkovsky’s Nostalgia) where a crazed monk pounds on a bell, shouting, “The Turks are coming!” And then Satan’s tango ends, only to begin again.

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