Kárhozat, (Damnation) (1988) - Rotten Tomatoes

Kárhozat, (Damnation) (1988)

TOMATOMETER

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr began his career making social realist domestic dramas, similar to the work of John Cassavettes. The feature before Damnation, Almanac of Fall, showed Tarr moving toward a more visually stylized form of filmmaking. With Damnation, the first of his collaborations with novelist Laszlo Krasznahorkai, Tarr adopts a formally rigorous style, featuring long takes and slow tracking shots of the bleak landscape that surrounds the characters. Shot in black-and-white, Damnation tells the story of Karrer (Miklos B. Szekely), a depressed man in love with a married woman (Vali Kerekes) who sings at the local bar, Titanik. The singer has broken off their affair, despite her profession of love for him. She wants to improve her life. She dreams of becoming famous, but she herself embodies all of Karrer's hopes and dreams. Karrer is offered smuggling work by Willarsky (Gyula Pauer), the bartender at Titanik. Despite his lack of other prospects, Karrer tries to haggle with Willarsky over his take. Karrer eventually decides to offer the job to the singer's husband, Sebastyen (Gyorgy Cserhalmi), who has fallen on hard times. This gets the husband out of the way for a while, but things don't go as Karrer plans with the singer. There's a big, drunken dance, which everyone in town attends (though one demented soul prefers to dance maniacally in the rain outside). Afterwards, one betrayal falls upon another, leaving Karrer in despair, alienated from all of humanity. This film laid the groundwork for Tarr's next collaboration with Krasznahorkai, Satantango, a seven-hour film which they spent years developing, and which many consider Tarr's masterpiece. ~ Josh Ralske, Rovi

Cast

Gyula Pauer
as Willarsky
Hédi Temessy
as Cloakroom Attendant

Critic Reviews for Kárhozat, (Damnation)

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (3)

It's a serotonin-depleted ordeal, and yet seemingly a sketchbook of vibes and ideas to come, with some of the most magnificent black-and-white images shot anywhere in the world.

October 5, 2007
Village Voice
Top Critic

If its grey aura of despair sometimes hangs a mite heavily, it's certainly worth persevering with for a pay-off that is as perverse as it is powerful.

January 26, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

The near miracle is that something so compulsively watchable can be made out of a setting and society that seem so depressive and petrified.

July 31, 2003 | Full Review…
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

A more awesomely bleak portrait of town life is hard to conceive.

March 4, 2014 | Rating: 10/10 | Full Review…
Antagony & Ecstasy

Beginning with a long, slow tracking shot of a coal transport gondola being viewed by a man from his window, we immediately note a director in complete control. The scene is meticulously composed...

March 4, 2012 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…
Reeling Reviews

nobody subjects humanity to doom-laden fatalism quite like Tarr, and Damnation is unmissable for fans of the auteur's oeuvre, or of mud-spattered miserabilism in general.

May 13, 2009 | Full Review…
Eye for Film

Audience Reviews for Kárhozat, (Damnation)

If Tarkovsky had made Wings of Desire, I guess it would look a lot like this, a bleak, formally rigorous film in which every single gorgeous shot is meticulously calculated, only it is too oppressive and detached as it observes a filthy loner who tests our patience with endless existential aphorisms.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

In "Damnation," a singer(Vali Kerekes) closes the door literally and figuratively on her affair with Karrer(Miklos B. Szekely), choosing to stay with her family. So, Karrer becomes so depressed that he turns down an offer to travel to pick up a package, claiming he does not feel like going anywhere, despite quite possibly living in the infamous Armpit of the Universe. Instead, he proposes that the singer's husband Sebastyen(Gyorgy Cserhalmi) take the job for 20% which would clear up their debts. With "Damnation," director Bela Tarr slows down the pace to create a sense that the characters are stuck in their predicaments without any hope of escape. This is especially true of Karrer who spends an awful lot of time looking at the aerial tram going past his windows. The only problem with this stylistic approach is that as often as it works(a slow pan around a bedroom), it just as much annoys. For example, no establishing shot should last a minute. And there are quite a few times when there is nothing of interest in the frame which leaves plenty of time for the viewer to get a drink, use the bathroom or work on the New York Times crossword puzzle.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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