Satantango ★★★★★

Berlinale 2019


"You're lovely, you're fair, Hungary"

Short review:


Long review:

Cinema probably didn't exist until Sátántangó premiered at Berlinale in 1994. Now it felt surreal to sit in Delphi Filmpalast 25 years later, witnessing the 4K rebirth of this ageless masterpiece. How does anyone review a film of this kind after the first watch?

Imagine watching a road. Nothing is happening, you just sit there and watch. Hours pass by. There's just you, the road and the quiet humming of the wind. Time loses its meaning. At one point, something happens; the road starts fading away. You stare into the abyss and the abyss stares back. Soon there's nothing except silence talking. You get consumed. That's the road of Sátántangó.

As you may know, I like using the word 'master' when it's due and the maestro Béla Tarr definitely fulfills the full extent of its meaning, in his own charmingly humble way. Tarr isn't only a master of cinema, but the master of our universe; no human could make a film like Sátántangó. To even think of a 7.5-hour-long film paced so flawlessly that the whole experience flies by as fast as possible, it's absolutely unbelievable. I'd like to see Nolan or Spielberg trying.

Tarr turns the rough rural landscapes of Hungary into something disturbingly beautiful and wistful. The atmosphere surrounding these muddy paths and small houses mercilessly beaten up by heavy rain leaves a weirdly unsettling feeling, the way how there's always a sense of absurd opression hanging above the everyday struggle of Sátántangó's poor characters - the presence of Satan himself, perhaps, or nothing but just the dark side of humanity.

Sátántangó is by far the best looking kinoflick I've ever seen. The inconceivable cinematography, channeling fragile humanity in such a profound way, is so far above everything else that there's simply no competition. Tarr's grand achievement couldn't be anything less than one of the greatest glimpses of art there has and will ever be, and its rightful place is most definitely in my top 10.

After the screening I went to thank Béla for the film, to which he calmly replied "yeah sure, no problem" - that bloody bastard doesn't even know that he's a god walking among us mortals.

"You cannot build any fucking fence between the people" - Béla Tarr

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