Sátántangó | Chicago Reader

Sátántangó

How can I do justice to this grungy seven-hour black comedy (1994), in many ways my favorite film of the 90s? Adapted by Hungarian filmmaker Béla Tarr and László Krasznahorkai from the latter's 1985 novel, this is a diabolical piece of sarcasm about the dreams, machinations, and betrayals of a failed farm collective, set during a few rainy fall days (two of them rendered more than once from the perspectives of different characters). The form of the novel was inspired by the steps of the tango—six forward, six backward—an idea reflected by the film's overlapping time structure, 12 sections, and remarkable choreographed long takes and camera movements. The subject of this brilliantly constructed narrative is nothing less than the world today, and its 431-minute running time is necessary not because Tarr has so much to say, but because he wants to say it right. In Hungarian with subtitles.

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