Graham’s review published on Letterboxd:
Satantango: A dance of 12 steps. 12 incredibly long, slow steps. 12 steps that test your patience, your mental balance, your perseverance, your determination.
There's something very Tarkovsky-ish about this epic feat of cinema. But, where Tarkovsky can absorb you to the point that the runtime becomes inconsequential, and only afterwards do you realise what you've just experienced, this masterpiece of relatively recent cinema from Bela Tarr really makes you earn it. It crushes in on you. I don't think I've ever experienced cramp of the brain before now... but this just kept squeezing, for hours on end and now it’s over I need a serious rest.
So, what's it all about you may ask. You can pack a lot into a 439m runtime (that's 7h 19m in old money), but this is no Marval-style action fest. This is all about the long take, the drawn out zoom shot and the festering, lingering, melancholy moment. It repeats itself from different angles, different points of view, different times, and is accompanied by a soundtrack full of highly repetitive accordion-based earworms that really got inside my head.
If you struggle to concentrate, I'd suggest you leave this alone until you can, as frankly it needs your full attention to deliver the full effect. There are frequent shots that seem to go on way too long, but when the movie shifts to the next phase it all makes sense.
I watched this in a couple of sittings, as I knew that my knackered old body wouldn't cope with it in one hit. I reckon it would have been better in one go, but if you do… bring a picnic, some red bull and eye drops!
The movie itself is presented in twelve discreet parts, like a Tango. Stepping forwards and then back. It’s really cleverly done and though the chapters are self-contained and interesting in their own right, together they just melt into each other. As I neared the end (around chapter 10 I think), it all snapped into place and the final run home was sensational.
This is without a doubt one of THE cinematic experiences. It will leave a lasting impression on me I'm sure and I really hope to get the chance to see it on the big screen one day.
Watched as part of the Honey, I Shrunk the Watchlist! Challenge 2020.