In Senses of Cinema, Tan Xing Long Ian on the phenomenological questioning in Bela Tarr's films
In fact, all of Tarr’s characters are questioners, in Heidegger’s sense of the word – they look into the abyss and question the purpose of their own Being, all the way intuiting the dreadful sense of the Nothing. Karrer’s apocalyptic awareness is distilled when he tells another character that ‘all stories are stories of dissolution’: no narrative can disguise the ugliness of ruin behind it all. The singer tells Karrer that she will survive in the end because of her ‘decency’, but nothing can conceal her profound loneliness and innervation when she sings about the transience of love and existence in the bar. For them, as for Heidegger, the question of the being of things becomes meaningful only because they have sensed, behind the fabric of Being, the Nothing that gapes at them. It is this strange oscillation between the facticity and solidity of being and the possibility of the eruption of the Nothing that torments them. Tarr’s strange dialectic is thus profoundly Heideggerean in that the objects of Tarr’s world reveal themselves as beings in unconcealment only when this world is at a crisis point, only when the possibility of the Nothing is glimpsed.