Satantango

Satantango ★★★★½

"I woke to the sound of bells..."

A masterfully crafted piece of cinema - though not something I would want to immediately rewatch. More of a long forgotten dream resurfaced, than it is a movie. Going into Sátántangó, I was skeptical of this 7+ hour runtime being justified. No film NEEDS to be seven hours long. But harkening back to my initial takeaway from this experience, it doesn't feel right to categorize this as a normal film.

Sátántangó's effectiveness in delivering a FEELING comes from the very length of the picture itself. Final runtime obviously, but also in shot duration. There are only (approx.) 150 shots in the entire thing. Average shot length being 11-12 minutes. I gravitate towards directors who allow the cameras to roll longer, but this is on a whole other, ridiculous level. In most films with long takes, it's to push the technical limits of the medium (ie. Children of Men, Birdman, 1917, Victoria, The Secret in Their Eyes, etc) or to create tension / build atmosphere (ie. Rope, Long Day's Journey Into Night, Russian Ark, The Sacrifice, Paths of Glory, Oldboy, etc). Tarr uses the technique in a brilliant way, to create this tangible, unwavering, relentless sense of monotonous momentum.

It is the polar opposite of escapist cinema. When you embark on Sátántangó, you're trapped. Ushered along for what feels like a lifetime, by an all mighty camera, observing the spiraling lives of these villagers. Would I have enjoyed a 3 hour cut just as much? Absolutely. While it's one of the best STRUCTURED movies I've ever seen, isn't it true that auteurs like Tarkovsky & Malick create worlds just as rich, in a fraction of the time...? Ah, but we're forgetting - this movie isn't about enjoyment. Tarr made what he wanted to make. He doesn't care if your journey is one of enlightenment, or one of suffering. The deeper into the world you drift, the more the piece begins to resonate. Truly unlike anything else.

(Alternate Review: Leave the fucking cat ALOOONE!!)

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