Satantango

Satantango ★★★★★

7 and a half hours. That said I'd like to point out I watched this with someone. I mention that because I'm not sure what I would rate it had I watched it alone, I'm not even sure how I would have responded to it. To start, this isn't a master class in cinematography... it's higher than that. It's packed with intricate tracking shots that clearly were well thought out. It's hard to not compare this to Tarkovsky to be honest. It's not a happy film. It's bleak, and explores a lot of things Tarkovsky works do. It visually is a lot like him also, but even more methodical if you can believe that. It forces you to consider what the characters are thinking, because it literally gives you the time to do so. For an example, a kid waits for someone to come out of a home. It actually shows her waiting that whole time, no cuts, and they come out and the 2 of them walk off across a muddy field. It shows all of that, still with no cut from when she first started waiting. I understand that may sound terrible to some, but trust me, it works (I watched with someone else as I mentioned, and we were constantly considering things during those long shots, and it was great that the film instigated that). I will say I felt it was a bit hard to follow for a while. Not because of what was happening, but I had no context to why. To sum that up, this film starts at the end, then goes across a few timelines (we are talking hours, not days or years) and that's not apparent until over 2 hours in. At that point...lt gets dark quickly... I won't go into detail, but something happens late into the 2nd hour, and the film shows it.... for HALF A HOUR+! My friend was crying a few minutes into that section, and my skin was crawling. It just kept showing this event happening... it was one of the most disturbing things I've experienced in film (not counting docu's of stuff like real footage of victims of the Holocaust and things along those lines). If I explained in words what happened you'd probably think I'm soft, but if you watched it, you would understand. It was unrelenting, then it carries further on in a pretty sick way until the last event in that section happens. I mention that because it's how the whole film is in terms of mood. Like one part has a woman in a bar just looking straight into the camera as you overhear other patrons conversations. She doesn't speak at all, for minutes on end, but you know exactly what she is thinking. It's high immersion. It is methodical but for clear reasoning, it's like you are being John Malkovich. You're seeing and hearing what they are doing in such a immersive way. I really got hooked at that section with the little girl, the one I described above that was so disturbing. That's when it clicked for me, and at the end of her section that's when you realize the times are overlapping and it's connected. That really gives purpose to the first 2 hours where I found it to just be interesting enough, but shot beautifully. I won't go into the story more than that other than saying the runtime isn't a gimmick here. The scoring is rather dark with a hint of tension when it's there, but it's often very Hungarian with just an accordion otherwise. The sound design is fantastic, sometimes the sound just stops and it's at these perfect moments where your mind is expecting something. It's really well done like that. I'll try to wrap this up because I'm on the verge of babbling. I'd suggest watching it with someone because while it's down time has a purpose, I could see it weighing on someone over time if they have a active mind. Don't watch it if you aren't the type to try to understand characters. This movie is very mental like that, and that's really what makes it so awesome besides that cinematography. Also as I mentioned, this isn't a feel good story, so don't expect that, but it's a really good story and it's told so well through non traditional ways. This is really a work of art and I was blown away by it. Given its run time, I expected to just be happy when it was done, but I ended up with quite an amazing film experience.