Satantango ★★★★★

It's been done. I've finally decided to watch (and finish) the seven-hour beast that is Satantango, a slow cinema film that's certainly not the longest nor the most punishing but the most well-known of its kind. Though I cheated; I broke it up into parts and watched it over a week.

So does it live up to the hype? I will say I prefer Béla Tarr's Werckmeister Harmonies and The Turin Horse even ignoring that they're much shorter, but there's no denying the sheer artistry and haunting appeal of Satantango; it is a work that doesn't need to be seven hours, yet it necessitates that length through the scope of its narrative. Affairs, robberies, conspiracies, and death all play out as we're watching, but instead of being remotely exciting these topics are rendered mundane and therefore dispiriting.

And it succeeds in weaving a bleak and leaden epic, one that encompasses many arcs and events in this small, forlorn Hungarian village. I truly do think it earns every minute within for just how much actual narrative there is that unfolds, but its uncompromising nature ensures that we suffer along every single one of these minutes as we witness the tragedy and crushing oppression that happens to forgotten communities like this.

"People don't like freedom, they are afraid of it. The strange thing is there is nothing to fear about freedom... order, on the other hand, can often be frightening."

I still am unsure how to rate it and would argue that doing so is an impossible task; I can't score it above the Béla Tarrs I like more, yet the sheer audacity and vision of this prevents me from scoring it lower. Ultimately if this didn't exist there would be another that does what it does, so Satantango's sheer importance then necessitates its own existence – whether or not you watch it is almost secondary to acknowledging it.

reibureibu liked these reviews