In this day and age of shortened attention spans, you’ve really gotta have something special if your film is gonna run over two hours. You have to keep your audience hooked the whole way through, or it isn’t gonna work as well as you think it will. So when a film like Satantango comes along, at a modestly hefty 7 hours and 12 minutes, you wonder just what could be so incredible about this film to warrant such a running time. Well, in Satantango’s case, nothing. The film is long merely because the director wanted it to be, and for no other reason.
The film’s opening shot, for instance, lasts roughly eight minutes, and consists of cows milling around a farm. There is nothing else that happens, just cows. Why this shot takes practically the length of an entire film reel is beyond me; this is a shot that easily could’ve made it onto the cutting room floor. And it’s not just the opening shot, oh no; every shot in the film is like this. The shots themselves have a very beautiful quality about them, in certain ways, but it’s mostly the fact that they linger for so long that really sticks with you, and perhaps not for the best reasons. There were many times I got up and went to the bathroom or went for a drink or a snack (in no hurry, mind you), and came back to find I had missed absolutely nothing. I can appreciate art, but art for art’s sake has a line, and for me, this film crossed it.
I can understand what the director wants with his vision; I can moderately appreciate what he tries to achieve with his film, but there was a small part of me that just took offense to the whole affair. I was insulted that the director had the gall to make me sit through a seven hour film pretty much solely because he wanted it to be that long. Well, another one off my list of 3+ hour films, at least. I feel this should be classified more as an art exhibit than an actual film, but to actually do so would be splitting hairs, so I won’t bother. The director, Bela Tarr, displays a fine craftsmanship and eye for beauty, but the film was just too much for me, and unless you’re an absolute diehard, it will be for you too.
Arbitrary Rating: 4/10