Satantango ★★★★½

Bela Tarr Ranked

Despite numerous interpretations, political and philosophical and allegorical, I think SATANTANGO’s central thesis is actually quite straightforward. In SATANTANGO, order and authority are both necessary and all corrupting. Our characters exist in a vicious cycle of despair, wherein a lack of order causes them to betray one another and shuffle about in disarray, but sudden authority deceives and thieves them of their homes and dignity. The nihilistic attitude at the center of the film is the result of this circular damnation. You’re damned if you’re free and you’re damned if your subjugated. You’re damned if it’s communism and you’re damned if it ain’t. There is a distinct lack of free will at the center of Bela Tarr’s films, an encroaching sense of doom no matter what your circumstance. Fate, a godless and unmerciful one, wraps its twisted finger around our characters, and watches them dance like atoms in a Petri dish until they eventually decay. The world is shitstained muck, drenched and moist and windy and trash-filled. And there’s nothing a pathetic fucking pig farmer can do about it.

Brilliantly structured and somehow even more well-shot, SATANTANGO is by an eternal margin Tarr’s best film.

Goodness gracious, I need a drink.

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