No technique of cinema is as royal and as risky as the Long Take—audacious in its promise of unified time and space, terrifying in what that might imply. Inspired by the films of Hungarian auteur Béla Tarr, famous for his long take, and the novels and screenplays of Tarr’s great collaborator László Krasznahorkai, Janice Lee’s Damnation is both an ekphrasis and confession, an obsessive response, a poetic meditation and mirror on time; time that ruthlessly pulls forward with our endurance; time unleashed from chronology and prediction; time which resides in a dank, drunk, sordid hiss of relentless static.
As declared in Tarr’s film Damnation, “All stories are about disintegration.”
“That a film or a series of films is inspirative of a literary work of the most poetic and sophisticated kind is a rare phenomenon. Janice Lee’s book is the meeting point of two sensitivities of the finest. One is for the most desperate conditions of life in its objectivity, the other is for the most sublime, even divine spiritual reflection of this life. Lee’s Damnation is a beautiful variation on these themes that are at the depth of every film of Béla Tarr.”
—ANDRÁS BÁLINT KOVÁCS
“Damnation is a crucial node in contemporary ekphrasis, an inspired contribution to the art of slow seeing, and a document of cinematic obsession. Here Janice Lee conjures an alien, allegorical world that hovers just next to ours, a world which both repels and invites our visitation. She seeds her scenes with countless knockout sentences, whose lush music complicates her project’s austerity.”
“Like its image of a furtive Holy Book that drives its bearers mad, Janice Lee’s Damnation hovers with remarkable grace between the sublime states of faith and terror. The graceful immediacy with which she navigates frame after frame of struggling humans caught up in the veils of darkness, thunder and silence, and moral duty bears resemblance to Saramago’s The Cave or McCarthy’s Child of God, though perhaps even more haunted, stripped to bone. “Anything that God takes part in is the most horrific thing you’ve ever imagined,” she writes, and then holds the reader in that vast anticipation, with mesmerising results.”
“Janice Lee is a genius.”