Satantango ½


I was going to write the longest review I had ever written for Sátántangó, Tarr's infamously long so-called "masterpiece", which is the most pretentious and self-aggrandizing piece of shit I have ever seen. It is, to date, the worst experience I have ever had watching a film.

My review was going to be really funny. I was going to make jokes about how this movie is a cult that indoctrinates everyone that views it, forcing them to sing its praises lest they seem uncultured. The proof is in the pudding for that one: the tremendous reception on this site is exactly what drew me to this film. I was going to joke about how the first critic who saw this decided to play the greatest prank in history by giving it a positive review just to force his peers to rave about it the same, lest they feel inferior. I was going to joke about how despite giving it half a star, I give it the 'like' only because the film serves as a brilliant trap, a mark of identification for all of the most pretentious and annoying "cinephiles" who will pretend to enjoy anything if it's long, black and white, slow, dull, and foreign enough. It is also unintentionally hilarious in its self-parody of arthouse cinema, and I can only hope and pray that Tarr intentionally shat this out as the parodial masterpiece that it is. Unfortunately, I think his intentions are nowhere so brilliant or self-aware, but entirely pretentious, which is why this movie ranks below even those like Wiseau's The Room. For all it's ineptitude, Wiseau at least had some noble intention of making “real Hollywood movie.” 

My review was not going to be without some form of legitimate criticism. I would have first clarified the following: I don't mind slow films, I don't mind black and white films, and I don't mind foreign arthouse cinema. I do mind it when a film uses these elements poorly. I was going to discuss how the film deliberately subverts narrative forms to serve specific purposes in building its atmosphere and themes about the examination of life and the passage of time. I was going to make the point that subversion of conventions is useful and artistically valuable to a degree to which it builds a legitimate dialogue with the audience and alerts them to these purposes. But conventions exist for a reason in cinema, and to hold on a shot of cows grazing in a field for three minutes would have accomplished building that dialogue, while holding on it for ten replaces this dialogue with self-parodying masturbation. Subversion for subversion’s sake is artless, subversion for the sake of insulting one's audience is contemptible. I would have finally pointed out that it is so disappointing Tarr is committed to making such foolishly self-defeating choices when the technical components of this are so superb: the sparsely used score, the hyperrealistic acting and long unbroken takes of dialogue scenes, the intriguingly layered and thematically rich narrative, the beautiful cinematography. Within this 7.5-hour abomination lies one of the greatest 3-hour films ever made.

And after writing that long review, I was going to ask that if you thought the review was too long, pointless, and dull, then I would argue that it has precisely the same artistic merit as the 'masterpiece' it criticizes. I would then humbly request that you fellate me just as you would fellate Tarr for creating such an artistic masterpiece. To those people who know me personally and anticipated a "real" review knowing my disdain for this film, consider your expectations subverted--this only adds to my artistry. I also briefly considered writing this long review, but also repeating each letter five times, so that you could feel the full effect of your mind being numbed by the film. I would congratulate all those who truly enjoy this film without feeling the need to share it as a sign of artistic faux-superiority, and also kindly urge them to get their heads examined. For the rest of the people who pretend to enjoy this film and never fail to tell others they do so, my words would not have been so kind.

Alas, that review shall never be written--for there is only one thing that I have learned from watching all 432 minutes of Sátántangó. Life is far too short and far too precious to spend any more time on trash like this.

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