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Satan’s Tango

Béla Tarr
Hungary 1994 / 450’
restored version of the film, 2 x 30 min intermission
Magnolia The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On

The story takes place on the Great Hungarian Plain where the protagonists live on an abandoned collective farm that hasn’t produced anything in a long time. Thoughts of escape are the only cure for their awareness of the decay consuming everything. The inhabitants come up with more and more elaborate plans to cheat and hinder one another—until, one day, the “messiah” arrives in the form of a crook and former police informant. Convinced that he will cleanse them of their evil ways and forgive their sins of the past, the protagonists follow him across the plain. Sátántangó is a modernist work by Tarr, which not only boldly continues, but even radicalizes, the contemplative movement represented by Ozu, Antonioni, Tarkowski and Jarmusch. Black-and-white is the answer to the overly saturated chaos of visual culture. Long shots and a lack of cuts are a reaction to the insane tempo of music videos and commercials. The 7.5-hour running time is a response to superficiality, to the demand for a quick response and subliminal impressions. This is a simple story to counteract the aggressiveness of plot. The film’s extraordinary length and pace are means of telling the story, not ends in themselves.

The plan of the screening:
Part I: 145’ (30’ break)
Part II: 130’ (30’ break)
Part III: 170’

Béla Tarr

Hungarian filmmaker born in 1955. Tarr’s 1979 feature debut  Family Nest, is a work of socialist realism clearly influenced by the work of John Cassavetes. In late eighties Tarr’s visual sensibility move from raw close-ups to more abstract mediums and long shots, but also his philosophical sensibility shifted from grim realism to a more metaphysical outlook. His masterpiece  Satan’s Tango took over seven years to realize and finally appeared to international acclaim in 1994.

Selected filmography

1979 Ognisko zapalne / Családi tüzfészek / Family Nest

1982 Ludzie z prefabrykatów / Panelkapcsolat / The Prefab People

1994 Szatańskie tango / Sátántangó / Satan’s Tango

2000 Harmonie Werckmeistera / Werckmeister harmóniák / Werckmeister Harmonies

2007 Człowiek z Londynu / A Londoni férfi / The Man from London

2011 Koń turyński / A torinói ló / The Turin Horse

Cast & Crew

director Béla Tarr
screenplay László Krasznahorkai, Béla Tarr
cinematography Gábor Medvigy
editing Ágnes Hranitzky
music Mihály Vig
cast Mihály Vig, Putyi Horváth, László feLugossy, Éva Almássy Albert, János Derzsi
producer György Fehér, Joachim von Vietinghoff, Ruth Waldburger
production Mozgókép Innovációs Társulás és Alapítvány, Von Vietinghoff Filmproduktion (VVF), Vega Film
sales Luxbox
language Hungarian
colouration b&w