Tuesday, July 22, 2008

DVD of the Week: "Satantango" (Bela Tarr, 1994)


What other movie would it be this week? Being released on DVD for the first time today (well...unless you bought a DVD for $25 on Ebay ripped from old VHS copies (like me!), or if you nabbed the Region 2 disc in the time it was available), Tarr's seven-and-a-half hour masterpiece can FINALLY be seen by everyone in what has to be a beautiful (director approved and supervised) transfer. Originally supposed to be released in November of 2006, the Satantango DVD has been a long time coming, but, as impatient as anyone can be, being able to experience the film in its best quality will be a treat worth waiting for. (keep reading below!...I was so excited this week I had to write more!)

Waiting to be bought out and move on with their lives (with a significant amount of money), Satantango follows the townspeople of a collective farm in Hungary, near the fall of Communism, who struggle to find, and take, a new direction in light of several events. They await a mysterious stranger who has promised to bring them lots of money, but they are shocked by rumors that one of their people, thought to be dead, may be returning with a message for them. The plot here, of course, is not the highlight of the film, although it is certainly an important, funny, and boldly moving film. Tarr's style had never been so assured as in Satantango, and while Werckmesiter Harmonies, and Damnation for that matter, have a lot of "wow" factor, Satantango's extraordinary length meshes makes it a real experience from the first shot on.

Unforgettable and unclassifiable, Satantango is a true miracle of filmmaking that all cineastes will be blessed to see, if not revel in. Sure, it takes patience (and if you're not into 7-11 minutes long shots, Tarr won't be your thing); yet, if you allow yourself to be immersed in the camera,, story, and characters, you will come out of Satantango in a beautiful daze that you won't soon forget.

6 comments:

chuck williamson said...

Oh my god! I had no idea this was coming out today!

Amazon.com, here I come!

Thanks guys.

James Hansen said...

Glad to inform, Chuck! This is certainly the most exciting (and long awaited) DVD release in a very long time! If only I could afford it at the moment!

Brandon Colvin said...

I really need to watch this again.

Hopefully, with the improved quality of the DVD over the bootleg VHS-rip that I borrowed from you, James, I will be able to go from really liking SATANTANGO to being a potential devotee, as are my fellow blogmates.

jacob shoaf said...

Chuck, you'll have to let us know how the movie looks. Dvdbeaver.com seemed to have several complaints about it (http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film2/DVDreviews26/satantango.htm). Is it worth the investment?

j.white said...

This couldn't have come at a better time for me - just started working my way through Tarr's work last Friday.

James Hansen said...

I hope you're enjoying Tarr's work, Jacob. His early films are so strange compared to the later work (although apparently Tarr refuses to admit that they are vastly different.) I like all of them to some extent, but they certainly go up a notch starting with "Damnation."