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January 11, 2006

Dargis on Satantango and the sacred contract between film and filmgoer

satantango-1.jpg Manohla Dargis sketches a keen appreciation of a little-seen masterwork in the NY Times. "There are, of course, a few other things you could do in the 420 minutes it takes to watch Bela Tarr's 1994 masterpiece Satantango, which begins a six-day run today at the Museum of Modern Art... At seven hours, not including two scheduled 15-minute breaks, this Hungarian film is one of those unusual works of contemporary art that demand from the audience a concentrated commitment - the luxury of time. Satantango traces the fate of a small, isolated community that attaches itself to a mysterious messiahlike figure of dubious character. The opening scene, which seems calculated to weed out fainthearted viewers, tracks a herd of cows as they meanderingly exit a barn and enter the muddy yard of the near-desolate village, with its cracked building walls and prodigiously strewn trash. As he does throughout the film, Mr. Tarr shoots this luxuriantly paced scene in long shot, using his beautiful framing and richly gradated black-and-white tones to find beauty in every miserable and mundane corner... Mr. Tarr [has] explained his predilection for long takes: "The people of this generation know information-cut, information-cut, information-cut. They can follow the logic of it, the logic of the story, but they don't follow the logic of life." In "Satantango," life is beautiful and grotesque by turns, and never less than mesmerizing... Plans are apparently afoot to bring the film to DVD, but as with Mr. Tarr's gorgeous long takes, these sounds of life are best appreciated in a theater like that at MoMA, where the sacred contract between film and filmgoer has yet to be broken."

Posted by pride at January 11, 2006 11:29 AM

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