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World Cinema Series: Sátántangó, directed by Béla Tarr

When 27 September 2009 (Sunday), 1pm
Where National Museum of Singapore, Gallery Theatre
93 Stamford Road Singapore 178897

Free admission but only for members who have pre-registered in advance. You may bring only 01 guest if you hold a SFS Reel membership card. Email with your name, SFS membership number, type of membership, expiry date and contact number to pre-register.

Pre-registration ends on Sept 25, 8pm. We will email to confirm the registration and inform you about the ticket collection.

There will be an intermission during the screening. Free seating.



Dir: Béla Tarr
1994 | Hungary | 450min (with intermissions) | 35mm | NC16
In Hungarian with English subtitles

Sátántangó is set on a depressed collectivist farm during the tail end of the Iron Curtain era. The film unfolds in twelve chapters, observing the conflicts and behaviour of the various characters that make up this world during the course of a single day. Conflicts are created over plans to escape, a pile of money, sexual jealousy, and the rumour that one of their own has returned from the dead. Rich in allegory and symbolism, and dark, Eastern European humour, Sátántangó unfolds, as the title suggest, like the drunken, diabolical dance of people, movement and spaces.

This over seven-hour-long film is truly the cinematic event of the year!

"Devastating, enthralling for every minute of its seven hours. I'd be glad to see it every year for the rest of my life." Susan Sontag


About the director Béla Tarr

Born in communist Hungary, Béla Tarr proved himself an amateur documentarian in his teens with an 8mm camera, making his debut feature Family Nest (1977) at the age of only 22. This, and his next four features, are characterised by a gritty social realism and a focus on the claustrophobia and difficulties of urban life in that era.

A commission to film Shakespeare’s Macbeth for Hungarian television in the early 80s led him to experiment with long takes which would become an essential part of his later style.

It wasn’t until the late 80s when Tarr started working with novelist László Krasznahorkai on Damnation (1988) - the first of their many collaborations - that the form and atmosphere of what we now know as ‘a film by Béla Tarr’ was fully established. Eschewing realistic conventions, and largely disposing of the close-up, Tarr began to make highly cinematic and monumental works, that although set in specific rural communities, take on a greater, metaphysical significance.

Sátántangó (1994), which like most of Tarr’s later works, took many years to complete. It is an over seven-hour-long portrait of melancholy and decay during the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was hailed as a masterpiece, and as his reputation began to grow, he took another several years to complete The Werckmeister Harmonies (2000), a haunting evocation of millennial, apocalyptic fears, which secured his place as one of the great working auteurs of world cinema.

This visionary body of work by Béla Tarr is a revelation to Director Gus Van Sant, who has openly acknowledged that they are a profound influence on his sequence of ‘long take’ films – Gerry, Elephant, Last Days and Paranoid Park. More recently, Tarr completed The Man From London (2007), a financially troubled production, and his first with an international cast that included Tilda Swinton. He has said, not for the first time, that his next film, The Turin Horse, will be his last.


“Films are our only means of authenticating our lives. Eventually nothing remains of us except our films - strips of celluloid on which our shadows wander in search of truth and humanity until the end of time.” Béla Tarr in 1987