(Might as well make it official, y'know?)
Now, I'm aware I've yammered about this a bit too often, but then, I was too flabbergasted to find it on YouTube to keep it to myself. Here, then, is the opening eight-minute shot of Béla Tarr's 7 1/2-hour miserablist Hungarian epic, Sátántangó. Consider it a primer for its long-due DVD release later this month. (See here and, if you have to*, here.)
Only 442 minutes left! (I kid. This movie is the bee's fucking knees.)
I know that it doesn't remotely translate to YouTube, proper aspect ratio or not. But even from a scratchy transfer on your computer -- don't even bother blowing it up to fill the screen -- it at least gives you an idea of what it should look like. Furthermore, it shoud give the unitiated an idea of what Sátántangó is like. More then just a kickass long take, this shot sets up everything that the film trades in: the detached, grimly comic tone; the glacial pace of the shots (the first of only 150!); the film's view of humans as little more than animals; the muddy, rural post-Communist Eastern European milieu; and, perhaps most of all, the subtly menacing sound design, in a way as accomplished as the photography. (The faint ambient melody is what really helps one succumb to the shot.) Then there's the behind-the-scenes reality -- how you're made aware that Tarr actually had to find this gloomy locale, had to shoot this sequence over and over and over again until the cows did exactly what he wanted. (The film, like Werckmeister Harmonies and his still-in-development Man From London took years to shoot.) At the end of this shot's eight minutes, you know what you're in for. In all likelihood, your body should follow suit.
Now: Plugs! I A-List about Richard Dawkins, who's swinging by the Philadelphia Free Library tomorrow. (Aside: I totally never wrote "bollocks.") Also, Rep.
Lastly, a warm congrats to my wonderful former editor Doree Shafrir, who today has taken up the mantle of associate editor at Gotham snarkspot Gawker. (She's the one on the left.) You may have last seen her doing a fine job explaining the Auteur Theory over at Slate, just one of many high-profile web-rags to which she contributes. Make us proud!
*I actually hear that the Facets transfer isn't as putrid as I once made it out to be. Reportedly, Tarr oversaw the transfer -- perhaps he saw what they did to his early work -- and the release was even delayed two months to fix minor mistakes. (Or so says an anonymous employee on an -- no joke -- IMDb message board.) Also, I've heard that they didn't totally fuck up Damnation and Werckmeister Harmonies as bad as I thought. Not that you shouldn't still get a regionless player and purchase the Artificial Eye release.