Welp, here comes it
The rumors are true: Sátántangó, Béla Tarr's (in)famous 7 1/2 hour exercise in long-take post-Communist Hungarian miserablism and one of my favorite films, is coming out on DVD.
Why am I not smiling ear-to-ear, you ask? ("You aren't?," you actually ask.) Because the disc is being produced by Facets. In case you haven't heard, Facets are evil. Pure evil. The dreaded Facets is a company who manage to combine a) the ability and wherewithal to put out on DVD rare and much, much sought-out films with b) utter technical incompetence, about which they have an apparent and seemingly malevolent nonchalance. For instance, if you wish to see Tarr's entire catelogue -- a feat, thanks to the scarcity of screenings of his films, not held by many people -- the only people you can turn to is Facets. Sure, if you have a regionless player, you can get a two-pack of 2001's Werckmeister Harmonies and 1988's Damnation, which boast brilliant transfers from Artificial Eye. But only Facets has the films he made even before then, including his first three Cassavetes-esque outings and 1983's Almanac of Fall (due out next week). If you wish to see a sample of the pure shittiness of the transfers, which look like they were cheaply taped from an nth-generation VHS dub (kind of like Fox Lorber's infamous botch of Godard's Pierrot le fou), check this DVD Beaver review, which tackles only The Prefab People. Egads, no?
Despite earning the considerable, vocal scorn of DVD cineastes the world over, Facets refuses to improve. Note, for instance, that the company stopped sending previews to the aforementioned DVD Beaver. There's no reason to expect that Facets will take care of Sátántangó, which is so much more than just a 7 1/2 hour ass-marathon. (I haven't been able to get it out of my head since catching it during one of its too-sporadic runs at MoMa this past January.) There are rumblings that the aforementioned Artifical Eye is working on it, with Tarr's aid, but rumblings they remain. In the meantime, all we have is this doubtlessly shit, appallingly overpriced set.
But to paraphrase Seymour Skinner, prove me wrong, assclowns. Prove me wrong.
By the way, check out Zach Campbell's 'tango post, wherein he wrestles -- mostly with commenters, that is -- over the notion that the film would ever translate to the home video format.