In a small dilapidated village in 1980s Hungary, life has come to a virtual standstill. The autumn rains have started…
Release Year: 1994
Rating: 8.5/10 (3,131 voted)
Stars: Mihály Vig, Putyi Horváth, László feLugossy
In a small dilapidated village in 1980s Hungary, life has come to a virtual standstill. The autumn rains have started. The villagers expect to receive a large cash payment that evening, and then plan to leave. Some want to abscond earlier with more than their fair share of the money. However they hear that the smooth talking Irimias, whom they thought had died, is coming back. They are apprehensive that he will take all their money in one of his grandiose schemes to keep the community going.
Writers: László Krasznahorkai, Mihály Vig
Éva Almássy Albert
Miklós Székely B.
Release Date: 28 April 1994
Did You Know?
The movie was shot between 1990 and 1994.
Not that human life was so highly valued. Keeping order appears to be the business of the authorities, but in fact it's the business of all. Order. Freedom, however, has nothing human. It's something divine, something… our lives are too short for us to know properly…
A masterpiece for this decade
I was mesmerized by this 7-hour long 1994 Hungarian film called
"Satantango." Filmed entirely in black and white, director Bela Tarr has
created some of the most stunning images I've seen on film. The opening
shot, about 10 minutes long, is an enormous tracking shot following a herd
of cows wandering through an otherwise desolate village. Then there's this
10-minute take of a window at dawn. Everything but the window is dark, then
ever so slowly morning light brings the objects in the room into view, a
character finally enters, peers out the window, then goes back to bed.
There's a 5-minute tracking shot of two characters hurrying down the street
in a horrendous wind while a veritable tornado of garbage and litter whirls
about them. There's a stark, almost surreal woods strewn with fog. No take
is less than a minute long, and there are about a dozen around 10 minutes.
The average edited shot in a Hollywood film is less than 10 seconds. It's
almost mind-boggling the logistical and practical difficulties of sustaining
such long takes. In a great many, Tarr utilizes extensive camera movement.
The camera tracks and weaves and gives you a sense of space found in few
other films — maybe those of a Welles, Ophuls, or Kubrick. The dance in
the middle of the film from which the film takes its title is shown in one
10-minute take. It cuts away to a little girl watching the dance for a few
minutes, then cuts back to the dance for another 10-minute take. And
nothing about this sequence is boring. The eight actors in the scene carry
on heartily. Another inspired shot has the camera revolving around seven
sleeping characters while a narrator describes the dreams of
The story concerns a group of poor villagers who gets conned by a smart
talker who was once one of their own into giving up all their money to go
live on a non-existent communal farm. The first 4-1/2 hours is made up of 5
"stories" from the perspective of different characters over the course of
the same day. Some of the events in each story overlap, so you see them
occur again and again, but each time from a different perspective since they
occur in the context of a different character's life. It is not unlike what
Tarantino does with a segment in "Jackie Brown," but whereas Tarantino's
technique is tiresome because it is plot-related, Tarr's is a grand
achievement in tone.
The first story shows us Futaki, who while having an affair with Mrs.
Schmid, finds out that her husband is planning to make off with the money
that eight villagers have come into through one of conman Irimias's schemes.
Then they both discover Irimias, who was thought to be dead, has returned
to their village. The second story follows Irimias and his trying to evade
trouble with the law. The third shows us a doctor who observes the other
villagers and who writes down everything he experiences in journals that he
keeps. The fourth has a young girl taking out her miseries in life on a cat
and contemplates suicide. The fifth shows all the pertinent villagers
gather together at a bar and drinking and dancing until they are all in a
Satantango is one of the grand achievements in cinema of this