Customer Review

48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond cinema, 26 Dec 2006
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This review is from: Sátántangó [1994] [DVD] (DVD)
I'm not going to bore you with the details of the `story' because first of all nothing really happens and secondly it's not important. Mostly its just people looking in and out of windows, walking, or just being, yet that may be what we're doing also by sitting for 7 hours, watching other people by transcending the barrier of celluloid and sharing in their misery. They say the eyes are the windows of the soul and in these Breughelian faces we see the personality of characters shine through and understand their individual and personal agony. This is what elevates this film beyond cinema and art into something more personal like the experience of music. By the end of the film characters feel like real people that we may intimately know.

Parallels are inevitably drawn with the work other directors like Tarkovsky, most notably `Andrei Rublev' (1966) and `Stalker' (1979). Tarkovsky's films had a sense of religious hope whereas Bela Tarr's have none of that yet I felt a certain amount of elation at the end. Albert Camus said that struggling to the height may be enough to fill a man's heart. How true.

This is a film I've waited several years to see since I first saw `Werkmeister Harmonies' (2000) and `Damnation' (1988) on the Artificial Eye DVD release. Rumour circulated for a long time about this eventual release and finally we have it. It's a film more have heard about than actually seen and has always been highly revered among cineastes. Satantango is filled with some of the most remarkable cinematography I've ever seen. So was it worth the wait? Absolutely.

Bela Tarr may be the greatest living director working today.

Highly recommended viewing.
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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 1 Apr 2009 14:15:50 BDT
Za09 says:
How do I start to review this type of sick madness?

At the beginning of Disc2, a young girl must wait outside while her prostitute mother handles a client. It is cold, rainy, dismal and dreary (all trademarks of Bela Tarr's filmic visions). She climbs up into a barn loft and we see her holding a cat, obviously her only companion. She sits there stroking the cat, the cat purring contentedly... then, her mother lets her client out the door and walks back into the house. We are looking down from the loft in the point of view of the little girl.

She does not like being treated this way and starts taking her frustrations out on her only companion, the trusting, purring cat. She begins the torture by grasping the cat by it's front shoulders and starts rolling back and forth on the floor while still holding the cat and slams it back and forth, back and forth onto the floor as she's rolling. The cat is bewildered and panicked but does not bite the girl, most likely because it still TRUSTS the little girl.

This cruelty and torture is not satisfying enough for the girl (obviously not for Bela Tarr either) and she let's the staggering cat go, goes down into the house through a back door into the kitchen area and gets some milk from a plastic bag, then, she reaches into a low cupboard drawer and takes out a container (which we assume/hope is sugar) and pours something into the milk dish, puts the container back and takes the milk dish back up into the barn loft. Think she's planning on `making up' to the cat? Eh... NO.

When she climbs back up into the loft she has to chase the cat through the rafters before she finally captures it again. The milk dish is placed in the foreground, the girl sits behind the dish facing the camera while forcefully holding the cat. She proceeds to force the cats whole face into the milk dish, forcing the cat to drink the milk. The girl smashes the cats face into the milk dish at least three times and we witness the cat licking it's mouth but it cannot escape the girl. After the third time she smashes the cats face into the bowl she sits holding the cat to the camera very rigidly while the cat licks it's face, then, little by little the girl releases her grip and finally lets go of the cat and walks back to 'observe' her work.

What happens? Well... if you have watched this far you have just witnessed the ONSCREEN POISONING OF A FELLOW ANIMAL! The audience watches while the cat moves less and less until... it dies.

And THIS? IS CALLED ART!

I've NEVER understood this type of crap being accepted as 'ART'?

Tarkovsky does it numerous times in Andrei Rublev to horses, dogs and cows. Bergman kills a horse in 'The Serpent's Egg' and the ONLY reason we don't see the horse killed and butchered onscreen is because David Carradine threatened to quit the film, so, Bergman had the horse murdered off screen, butchered part of it and dragged the carcass into the road which Carradine has to walk past on film. It is explained to us that in some countries, it is permissible to kill an animal onscreen if there is a licensed Veterinarian on set - how saintly sickening.

Just like the Hollywood etc. practice of tripping horses to get a good falling shot in Westerns - how many horses were crippled, maimed and were put to death so that we could see a 'cowboy' film?

There is NO EXCUSE or justification EVER to injure, maim or kill a FELLOW ANIMAL.

Where Bela Tarr found a young girl to perform this murder is beyond me. DISGUSTING!

I think Bela Tarr is a great film maker. I love Damnation & Werkmeister Harmonies but I can NOT forgive him for this. He should, AT LEAST, be given twenty lashes with a cat-gut whip! The young witch of a girl should get five lashes. Audience members who accept murder as art should also get five lashes!

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Aug 2009 00:19:11 BDT
Makes good cinema though.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Feb 2010 20:20:27 GMT
lensman 23 says:
I'm a vegetarian and animal lover, and totally agree with your comments about mistreating animals (or humans, come to that) for 'art'.
However, I didn't find this scene as horrendous as I thought it would be.
And according to Bela Tar, the cat was drugged and survived, to become his pet. It was NOT killed. I think you can tell it was drugged, as otherwise the girl would have been clawed to shreds!
Admittedly, there are still moral questions, but sometimes an illusion can appear real.

Posted on 23 Apr 2010 21:14:56 BDT
Check your facts before you go around spreading calumnies about Bela Tarr being a cat murder It didn't die, it now lives with Mr Tarr.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Jun 2011 18:26:21 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 14 Jun 2011 23:28:25 BDT]

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Jun 2011 23:29:03 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 14 Jun 2011 23:29:21 BDT]

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Jun 2011 23:38:01 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 14 Jun 2011 23:38:14 BDT]

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Oct 2011 22:30:02 BDT
L. Fazekas says:
I found this very disturbing too and asked him after a screening/ discussion in Budapest and he said they never poisend the cat, a vet was present because of the cow scene and he gave the cat the same stuff they use when they operate on them. At least that's what he said.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Oct 2014 07:36:31 BDT
man says:
"Murder" you say! "Murder" as if a cat is equal to a human being, it's just a cat, a simple dumb animal that has no immortal soul.
The penalty that you would like to dish out to Mr Tarr and the actress shows just how sick and twisted you are, you actually put animals on the same level as a human being or even higher, madness utter madness.
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