Smart_Monkey’s review published on Letterboxd:
the chapter about the little girl alone makes this a favorite. what to say about Satantango that hasn't already been said? i mean, it's not perfect. some sequences are a bit too mundane and uneventful for me to get into them. but having come out of the film and looking back on how everything fits together, i couldn't hold those few moments against it that much. i think on a rewatch i'd enjoy the film even more.
absolutely staggering cinematography, sound design, performances, score, all elements were done well. the atmosphere is just perfect, very hypnotic. it makes the mundane cinematic and gives a unique sense of meaning to meaninglessness. i don't think walking will ever be the same for me after having watched Satantango. it also has fantastic structuring. how the plot unwinds and everything wraps together by the end, yet no questions are really answered. we feel just as lost as the characters and the hopelessness of this situation becomes ever more present. there are sinister, vile undercurrents running throughout the movie. everyone is a bastard doomed to a miserable, pointless existence.
and while a film about empty pieces of garbage meandering for 7 hours, where 1/4 of it is made up of people walking, doesn't sound that good, the way it's executed is brilliant. again, it has a spectacular atmosphere. you really feel the environment (which is so gorgeously shot). it is incredibly bleak and nihilistic, but not in an obnoxious way. it never feels like it's trying hard to be depressing. it transports you to its world purely as a spectator and the events are portrayed objectively. the camera never leans one way or the other, there are never audio or visual cues which tell you how to feel. i think this further reinforces the nihilism and normalizes the shittiness of existence. the fact certain scenes are portrayed objectively heightens the tragedy because it reminds us we're just a spectator and this is life is here. there aren't many scenes portrayed in a grand, emotional way, many things that happen are for nothing, none of it has much significance in the end, and the film goes nowhere.
however, in the context of Hungary's situation and what i think Tarr was trying to say, it's a very meaningful film. since i'm uneducated on the subject, i couldn't offer any insights there. it seems to be filled with symbolism and that gives me something to watch out for on my next watch. but regardless, as an experience, it's amazing.
like with Werckmeister (which i have come to a personal conclusion about, i may write a follow-up review on it), it doesn't rely on its messages to be a masterpiece. the film is enigmatic in a way which i don't feel frustrated by not understanding all of it. instead, i embrace it. i think that was what Tarr was going for.
so yeah, it's incredible. worth all 7 hours. Satantango, 10/10