Recently I’ve realised how much people really miss out on. For instance, I realised how many more people have probably seen Tokyo Story than Humanity and Paper Balloons. And that that may very well be the reason it is so much more acclaimed. How many really give a film a chance before ultimately deciding? After all, Bela Tarr’s Sátántangó is seven hours long, its length gives it so much of its immense power. After seeing it, especially uninterrupted, a small number of people might realise that we need more films this length.
All Sátántangó means is Satan’s Tango. The tango is six steps back, six steps forward. The film is six chapters going backwards in time, six chapters going… forward. Yes, the film is just one big tango. It might be better if nobody knew that before watching it; imagine, the film would just sound like one big gimmick.
Anyway, that’s probably enough of the surface, now for the soul of the film. Tarr is constantly compared to Tarkovsky, simply because of long takes. While Tarkovsky’s is not completely bound to them, Tarr’s cinema can’t escape from them, it is dominated by length. His films are his for their incomparable look, at times achieving chiaroscuro. And he seems to know very well that the longer you look at an image the more power it has. He can’t survive without long takes surrounding him; that is why his films are so forceful. Stylistic radicalism is pictured as being fast and punchy, like Godard; few think of it as slow. What I’m trying to say is: could this be the New Wave of the future.
Okay: to be honest, it’s been really hard trying to write about Sátántangó, so I’ll just say that I think it unites the whole of humanity and analyses it under a microscope. The film isn’t political, moral, or anything. It’s a film not with a subject, but with a definition.