dani’s review published on Letterboxd:
Sátántangó is a manifest of humanism but the one that sees humanity as a disease that eats itself from the inside, can’t learn any lesson, and will lead itself and the world around it into an inevitable oblivion. But still, this masterclass of filmmaking is humanistic; it doesn’t seem that Tarr sees the rescue for humankind, and with this movie he cries for help so that maybe someone would find it. I can’t even call his work nihilistic, no matter how dark the world is you always can see Tarr’s deep respect for his characters and people in the real world.
Labels that are associated with his work such as “nihilistic” and “anti-human” are deeply misleading and wrong. All Béla Tarr does is mourns human beings’ love for exploiting and trying to subdue the gifts of nature we’ve been given, his bleak worldview arises from his deep love for both humanity and nature and the closeness between them.
And not only closeness but similarities also: in the opening shot we see a group of cattle as they wander around, with some instinctively having sex with each other, and slowly the herd move out of the farm towards the horizon. If you have seen The Turin Horse you know for sure what Béla Tarr implies right here, but even if you haven’t, the scene is blunt enough to catch the subtext.
Just like in The Turin Horse, he suggests a human being equals an animal. But in Sátántangó it seems he went a little further and put an animal above a human, for in the opening scene every single cow is free to go wherever it likes to go and even leave the farm. They have the freedom that none of the characters in the movie have; he sees human beings as blunt, desperate and mercantile tools, they don’t live but simply exist.