Sunday, September 28, 2008
Finally, after a number of years waiting to do so, I've seen Bela Tarr's "Sátántangó" (in three Netflix installments, spaced over a month, interrupted by vacation). It was worth the wait.
On a purely formal level, I'm not sure there's a single shot over seven hours I wouldn't be happy to gaze at for seven more. Just one unbelievably rich, gorgeously constructed image after another. Partly the sheer quality of the black and white film, partly his tendency to deal with depth by having everything in focus (allowing the viewer to shift his/her gaze round much as one does in reality), partly his unerring compositional genius, often using symmetrical shots (like the long, straight roads perspectivally attenuating into the distance) as a kind of continuo, a pedal point anchoring the others. Within almost every shot, there are dozens of elements which, themselves, contain tons of fascinating detail and, consequently, imply an enormous history. The town is like a depository of time.
The sound is also incredible; the musical interludes are fine but more the actual groans, shuffles and spatter of the environment.
And, of course, the people. Opaque on the one hand but mostly due to the grime and oppression of centuries, believing to one degree or another in their autonomy, but still essentially pawns. The sheer stolidness, but with a glimmer here and there. The awful, virtually alien Estike.
Amazing film. Jon, I know it's one of your favorites (maybe your #1) and I think I remember you gearing up a while back to watch it through it a sitting. Did that ever happen? I was picking up quite a few in-movie echoes but likely missed some due to the time span over which I watched. I'll certainly be buying the set for myself sometime soon. I can easily imagine viewing it on at least a yearly basis.
Michael Rodgers, solo disco on Black Petal
Christopher McFall - This Heat Holds Snow
Kassel Jaeger - [ee[nd]]
Marcel Duchamp - Complete Music (SEM Ensemble)
Roscoe Mitchell - Nonaah
Teiji Ito - Watermill