Sátántangó, the seven hour engaging movie!

So, browsing about films and getting to know about more movies is how I pass my day. I ran into this movie in a Facebook group. It’s hailed as one of the longest drama movies for its seven-hour length. I put it on my list to watch it on a day when I’m really in a good mood for a continuous watch. Days passed, and one beautiful eve, I ran into a quote by a Hungarian filmmaker that had influenced me right on!

“Most of the movies are working like, ‘Information, cut, information, cut, information, cut‘ and for them the information is just the story. For me, a lot of things [are] information – I try to involve, to the movie, the time, the space, and a lot of other things – which is a part of our life but not connecting directly to the story-telling. And I’m working on the same way – ‘information, cut, information, cut,’ but for me the information is not only the story.” ― Béla Tarr

I liked the way he talked about information and cuts. I browsed through his filmography, and that’s when I ran into Sátántangó once again. This time I wanted to watch it right away. I waited till the sun has set and the dinner is over. When birds are back at the nest, and people are lying on their beds, nothing to disturb me for seven long hours, I’ve hit the play button.

After seeing the opening scene of cows, and oxen running, gazing and fucking for about 10 minutes, I thought I would be bored to death and had prepared loads of caffeine to stay awake. But surprisingly, the next 6 hour 50 minutes of the film was so engaging that hours passed as fast as minutes. It was engaging for a movie that long. As the quote above, this movie has a different way of ‘information’ and ‘cut’. There were long takes and maybe if all the long takes are placed linearly, it would sum up to 2 hours at least. The long takes have made the film not boring at all. In fact, it is the long takes that had made it engaging. There were tension, suspense and unbelievable comedy. It was not a movie, and it felt like spying on real people and looking into their lives. The actors were perfect, and one should respect them for their patience for those long takes.

There is one long take in a pub, where a drunk guy speaks a few lines repeatedly for nearly half-an-hour in the background. It was hilarious and iconic. It reminded me of drunk people I’ve seen myself. No film had ever captured the essence of the drunken state better than this movie. It has a considerable plot; it could be a two-hour film, but it would not have been this interesting then. 

The story takes place in a small Hungarian village. It’s an episodic film where the point of view shifts from characters to characters in each episode. We see the same scene in a different point of view from a different character. It was excellent showing the same scene in different perspectives, making it live-like.

The story deals with handsome con men, war, poverty, the Rashomon effect, and flawed human personality. Being a novel adaption, we can know that it has justified the novel even without reading it. Because regardless of what the content is in the book, this movie gives space to the audience. Space where they can get into the scene, grasp all details and figure out what’s happening. The detailing is as good as an author describes his story. There’s even a poetic narration which gives the feel of reading a novel. Few scenes bored me off but weren’t many. The entire experience of watching this piece forgives the annoying scenes. It’s undoubtedly a must-watch film for people interested in film; as audience and as filmmakers.

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