Satantango

Satantango ★★★★★

A REVIEW FOR MY #1 FAVORITE FEATURE FILM OF MY ENTIRE EXISTENCE, AND MAYBE FOREVER WITH A 99.94% PROBABILITY
(only 99.94 because I have a sneaking suspicion that Edgar Cochran likes Satantango a smidge more than me)

Don't read it as a review, but the briefest analysis of why this film is so important to me that I could manage before I began to ramble. With that being said...

From the opening shot, rules are established. Not only are we handed the first of many juxtapositions of the villagers to farm animals, but the plot of the film is revealed. The cows are freed from the stable; the cows sit, aimless; the cows start walking; the camera starts moving.

The camera passes in front of buildings, fences, and posts, not caring if the subject is obstructed from view. This transcendental formula gives us so much, yet so little.

Further, the world that is slowly built is not one of black and whites—rather, it is one of greys. In fact, true blacks and whites are few and far between. The greys, and the lack of real stark contrast creates a slightly flatter composition for many of the shots, allowing one's mind to drift. The methodical form of Tarr and muted visuals create more room for subjective reaction, and less room for impatience. And when a seemingly arbitrary frame starts to shift—and the camera starts moving—often to my own surprise, a portrait is painted. From nothing, things begin to align. From cups, to a tormented housewife’s expression of disdain; From a window, to a drunken doctor stooped in his chair, onlooking the neighbors duplicity; From a tispy man ranting, to a whole bar full of half-passed out villagers onlooking the coming Messiah; From an abused little girl sitting on the street, to the same girl looking onto her sister’s brothel from her secret hideout; From muddy plains, to desolate, barren trees.

Where my first experience with Satantango had informed me of a biblical Revelation, a prophetic termination of our own ability unto ourselves, this rewatch has taught me that Satantango is a film about shifting perspectives, and the despondent ground within.

The shifting from Communism to “freedom”, and the treachery of the village within.

The shifting from resentment to worship, and the volatility of deciet within.

The shifting from black to white, and the retribution of greys within.

The shifting from life to death, and the endless tango of purgatory within.

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