A Far Too Brief Essay About Sátántangó
Béla Tarr’s film Sátántangó is formidable. Not simply because it is 7.5 hours long, but because any exposure to Bela Tarr’s world view is a rough ride. He was 39 when he made Sátántangó in 1994, but the film, like all of his films, is world weary and dark as dark can be. Béla Tarr has his own version of existentialism that is closer to the old school of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche than The French existentialist school of Camus and Sartre. For the French the lack of meaning in our existence, was a liberation. It was an opportunity to discover life’s value anew, but Tarr dumps a heavy bucket of dripping mud on Sartre’s cafe table, burying Sartre’s jaunty pipe and glass of wine in an irreversible “Fuck you” to the discovery of anything. Sartre looks up at Tarr and asks “Pourquoi?” And Tarr just silently trudges off. The camera watches Tarr recede step by plodding step into the background in a single continuous, ten minute shot until he is a dark dot on the horizon. Fade to black.