Satantango ★★★★½

I DID IT. I watched a 7 hour movie. Now I can brag about it. I wonder what got edited out or didn’t make the cut? This is one of those films that, because how simple this is (on the surface) plot-wise, it could have easily been under two hours if Béla Tarr really wanted to. But because of the way that the film is effectively and consistently paced at a very slow, real time rate, it could have gotten away with a 9 hour runtime. I can understand if someone was bored to tears by this, however, despite not much technically happening, I was enthralled; a hypnotic trance I was locked into, analyzing the details of each frame, searching for its subtle purposes and takeaways during such long takes. This is not a film where the plot is all that integral—the story, the situation the characters are in and how they react to the disruptions in their routines is. The environment is basically a living being of itself. It’s themes are quite interesting, showing a community’s draw towards an authority of some kind and how prone to manipulation they can be, as seen with Irimiás taking charge into a position of leadership. There’s a lot more going on but I’d be here for almost as long as this movie. The sequence that’s the most memorable to me without a doubt is the controversial one with that poor cat. Pretty traumatizing, I thought the cat literally was killed. The cinematography is phenomenal of course, a single take usually lasting 2 to 10 whole, beautiful minutes at a time. Béla Tarr’s direction is flawless, the actors incredibly authentic and believable. The screenplay is wonderful and I adore how unique the film’s nonlinear structure can be, which was confusing at first but did add to my enjoyment. All film buffs should experience this masterpiece in art house cinema at least once in their lifetime. As a Tarkovsky fan, which Tarr clearly was inspired by, it did not take long for this monster to grow on me.

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