Many adjectives can be used to describe the work of Hungarian director Bela Tarr — accessible is surely not one of them. Which means Satantango, with its butt-numbing seven-hour-and-12-minute running time, might not seem like an ideal entry point to dive into his nine-film oeuvre. But the determined cineaste who can find a DVD of the film and set aside an entire day to watch it will likely come away with an understanding of why Tarr — who has never worked in color — is considered a filmmaker of the first order. (The late Susan Sontag declared she would “be glad to see it every year for the rest of my life.”) The movie — which tells the story of a small farm and the return of a mysterious character long thought dead — unfolds at an appropriately deliberate pace. There are frequent long takes: the movie’s opening scene, in which the camera tracks a herd of cows moving down a country lane, runs uninterrupted for more than eight minutes.
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