Directed by Béla Tarr • 1994 • Hungary
Starring Mihály Vig, Putyi Horváth, László feLugossy
One of the towering achievements of modern cinema, Béla Tarr’s newly restored magnum opus, based on the novel by László Krasznahorkai, follows members of a small, defunct agricultural collective who set out to leave their village on the heels of a financial windfall. As a few of the townspeople secretly conspire to abscond with all of the earnings themselves, a mysterious character, long thought dead, returns to the village, altering the course of everyone’s lives. Shot in exquisite monochrome and composed in arresting long takes, SÁTÁNTANGÓ unfolds in twelve distinct movements, alternating forward and backward in time, echoing the structure of a tango dance. Tarr’s monumental vision, aided by longtime partner and collaborator Ágnes Hranitzky, is enthralling, and his immersive evocation of rural Hungary as a postapocalyptic world of boozy dance parties, treachery, and near-perpetual rainfall is both transfixing and uncompromising.