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Satantango (1994)
"Sátántangó" (original title)

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In a small, dilapidated village in 1990s Hungary, life has come to a virtual stand-still. The Autumn rains have started. A few of the villagers expect to receive a large cash payment that ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mihály Vig ...
Putyi Horváth ...
Petrina (as Dr. Putyi Horváth)
László feLugossy ...
Éva Almássy Albert ...
Schmidtné (as Éva Almási Albert)
János Derzsi ...
Irén Szajki ...
Alfréd Járai ...
Miklós B. Székely ...
Futaki (as Miklós Székely B.)
Erzsébet Gaál ...
György Barkó ...
Zoltán Kamondi ...
Barna Mihók ...
Péter Dobai ...
András Bodnár ...
Horgos Sanyi
Erika Bók ...


In a small, dilapidated village in 1990s Hungary, life has come to a virtual stand-still. The Autumn rains have started. A few of 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 returning. They are apprehensive that he will take all their money in one of his grandiose schemes to keep the community going. Written by Will Gilbert

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama


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Release Date:

28 April 1994 (Hungary)  »

Also Known As:

Satantango  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


Dorka Gryllus visited a friend on the set of Sátántangó, and was impressed by the whole "feeling of film making". It was then, when she decided to be a film actress - and in a few years, she became a famous Hungarian actress. See more »


Futaki: I shouldn't drink. When I do I keep thinking of coffins.
See more »


Featured in The Story of Film: An Odyssey: Post-War Cinema (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

Plodding and Plodding and Plodding along
11 April 2007 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

Satantango (1994) ****

Satantango, Bela Tarr's 1994 7.5 hour masterpiece is incredible first and foremost in that despite its length and multiple shots of literally nothing taking place it is never, I repeat, never boring. This is one of the most incredible films I have ever seen. Complied of only 150 shots, many of which last for over 10 minutes, Tarr and his cinematographer manage to create a hypnotic and beautiful depiction of a desolated communal farm in post-communism Hungary. The scenery is at once withered and ugly, yet compellingly beautiful. The land is muddy and the buildings are in shambles. There are two scenes where main characters walk with the camera following as multitudes of trash blow along with them in the wind, creating a somehow hypnotic effect.

The film opens with literally a 10 minute shot following a herd of cows wandering through a seemingly rundown farm town. The camera makes what has to be one of the most incredible pans in cinematic history panning to the left for most of the ten minute scene. Who else but Bela Tarr would try such a thing; and who else but Bela Tarr could make it work so well.

The film follows the people of the farm in essentially three sections. The first section begins by showing Futaki having an affair with Schmidt's wife. Schmidt we find out is planning to run away with the money the town has made over the past year but comes home and is confronted by Futaki who has suck out only to come right back and knock on the door. They hear that the smooth talking Irimias and his sidekick Patrina, who have been believed dead by the town, are on their way back to town. The other residents, who all plan to take their money and leave town, seem to be under the thumb of Irimias and after hearing of his return meet at the local pub and discuss what to do and wait nervously for Irimias's arrival.

The scenes are broken down into 12 steps, such as in a Tango. Nearly all of which are connected in that we see what has already happened from another perspective. The first section as noted involves Schmidt and Futaki; the second and one of the most hypnotic in the film is of an overweight and frail doctor who sits in front of his window documenting the actions of the townspeople. He details how Futaki is slipping out of Schmidt's house, and then goes back in, a scene which we've already seen except this time it's from the window of the doctor's house. The doctor hulks around and then realizes he must leave his home to get more alcohol. Scenes go on like this weaving in out and out the story line from different points of view. The first third of the film deals with the realization of Irimias' return, and exposes the corruption of the citizen's capitalism by their greed. The second third is the post powerful. It documents a little girl who is conned by her brother and ignored by her mother. The only thing she has power over is her cat, and in order to feel that superiority she tortures and poisons the cat. I will not reveal how, but this section turns to tragedy which will be exploited by the smooth talking Irimias.

The final third deals with the corruption of Irimias's communist plan for the farm. He convinces them to give him the power and all the money that has been saved up only to con them. This section is brooding with satire, as is the first in some ways, and has shades of Orwell's animal farm – the dumb and obedient townspeople conned into subjugation by the charming Irimias.

Essentially, Satantango is a 2 hour movie shown without its cuts bringing it to 7.5 hours. The film never uses its drawn out scenes to further the narrative, but neither does it use them for simply aesthetic purposes either. The film's length and incredibly long shots seem to be rubbing the atmosphere right in our nose. Many shots have the camera move, raising and weaving and circling defining space like no other film. Some of the extended scenes are incredibly funny in bizarre ways, such as an extended dance seen (from which the film gets its title) where the villagers get drunk waiting for Irimias and Patrina, dancing to accordion music while the little girl peers in through the window; and another scene that circles the room while two officers dictate and type out Irimias's statement, cleverly changing vulgar statements (which I found hilarious) and in the middle of it all, sitting down and having a snack in real time! These scenes sound perhaps boring, but somehow Tarr makes them seem riveting and when they end it's almost sad to see it. Another incredible extended sequence sees the camera facing down at the sleeping villagers circling them ever so slowing as a narrator describes their dreams.

Satantango is a film like no other. Its scope is breathtaking and its style is beautifully crafted. Tarr's films are almost like ballets: the camera moves always gracefully and in ways that we would only imagine that a cut was necessary, never faltering and always creating incredibly beautiful dances, and they set a mood perhaps better than anyone else. Satantango is Tarr's masterwork, epic in every sense of the word. If you get the chance to see this one, do yourself a favor and experience all 7 and a half hours of its majestic and drab atmosphere. Satantango is film for the sake of film and art for the sake of art.


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