2001afilmodyssey’s review published on Letterboxd:
"Yes" she said to herself softly.
The angels see this and understand.
She felt peace inside and around her, the trees, the roads, the rain and the night all breathe in tranquility.
Everything that happens is good she thought.
Everything was, eventually, simple.
She recalled the previous day, and smiling, she realised how things are connected
She felt as if these things weren't connected by accident, but that there's an indescribably beautiful meaning bridging them.
And she knew she wasn't alone, for all things, all people, her father up there, her mother, her brothers, the doctor, the cat, these acadias, the muddy road, this sky and the night down here. They all depended on her.
Just as she herself depended on everything all around her.
She had no reason to be worried.
Who answers Gods bells?
It doesn't feel real, none of it does, it's so bleak that it feels almost surreal. Yet it isn't. This is real life. This is our life. This happened to real people. And the internal psychological struggles they face are universal, the fact remains that it's a brutally realistic slap in the face. It's utterly inescapable, much like death. Sátántangó. Satan's Tango. To dance with the devil. Sátántangó is cinematic representation of purgatory, utter hopelessness. It's life. It's death. It's all the pain in between.
Bela Tarr uses his bleak and unforgiving portrait of a desolate Hungarian village to delve into the very soul of man. Our personalities and moral constructs, our egos and even our society. Slow, meditative and self-reflective. Sátántangó doesn't once shy away from depicting in excruciating detail the hell that these people live in. It's the hell they put themselves in, it's the hell they have utter control over.
True freedom is having control over your control. But people are afraid of freedom, they forfeit their control to somebody else, a presence or a higher being, so that when everything goes wrong they have something to point to and take the responsibility away from them. Freedom comes with upmost responsibility of yourself and your ego. When you're afraid of yourself, you're afraid of freedom. "The dull inertia makes you vulnerable to your greatest fear"- The greatest fears of these lost souls, are themselves. The thought that looms in the back of their mind like the stark shots of the hopeless landscape, that everything that is wrong with their lives is embedded deep in their being. They are wired with a deep self-destructive principal to destroy that which they don't understand, we can't stand that which we can't grasp, so we remove it. And as they can't understand themselves, they remove themselves and are left as shells, empty. Absolute nothingness.
True Freedom is learning to accept your place in the universe. Our desires and hopes are arbitrary and futile. The people in the village have dreams, they have aspirations, we’re introduced to each of their plans for the future but hope holds no value, it merely destroys them. But these dreams die. They aren’t nurtured or cared for, there is no hope for them. They destroy themselves yet again, they don’t get what they want and they resort to a lost, scarce lifestyle, drinking, lying, stealing and even prostituting themselves in order to feel something. In a desperate attempt to validate their existence and respond to the cruelty of the world. But this just leaves them spiralling further into their hell. This hell isn’t where you are, it’s who you are. When you try to resist, to fight back against the universe, you only end up more broken and alone. You need to accept you place, learn to revel in the longevity of life. Don’t expect things to be better, you’ll only be disappointed, life is one constant disappointment.
True freedom is not when you accept that you depend on everything around you to prove yourself, but when you also realise that it all depends on you. You are your own God, heaven, hell, purgatory, it’s all inside you, your perception defines your reality, and that is what’s true, what’s concrete. You give value to your own life, life has no inherent meaning, everything comes from you, so giving up you control and shying away from freedom will only destroy you and those around you.
True freedom is when you realise you control yourself, but you can’t control the world. Nietzsche’s philosophy of Amor Fati translates to “love of ones fate”, you can’t control everything that happens or will happen to you, but you can co-exist with it and maintain your soul. Death is inevitable, you can fear it, you can create artificial orders and laws to give you life a sense of distraction and purpose. But in the end you will die. You lose your innocence, trying to control others as a way of trying to satisfy your need to control that which you can’t (Think Estike and the cat) but you can’t control your death, trying to resist only makes you more distant and nihilistic, an embodiment of emptiness and nothingness waiting for a sign.
True freedom is when you leave behind your desire for a higher presence and realise the falsity of the Gods.
True freedom is when homeostasis conquers inertia, you learn that time has to move forward, you have to move forward, time stops for nobody. The days turn to years and you try so desperately to keep things the same because of a fear of what lies ahead, you fear death, change and your fate. But stepping into the boundlessness grants true utopia.
Only you can answer Gods bells.
And you can choose to wake up and respond. Or you can board yourself up and hide away, its facing those bells that allows you to face a future free of pain and suffering. Your memories fade, past and present coexist. Time carries on. Undiluted and clouded.
But why does any of it matter?
Because in the end…
“What did the poor devil expect”